The Windows Home Server team is ecstatic about the number of add-ins that have been developed for Windows Home Server over the past year. Check out the WeGotServed blog that has a more comprehensive list of all of the add-ins that are available for Windows Home Server.
In reviewing a lot of the add-ins, I noticed that the majority of them are targeted at “enthusiasts” that want the Windows Home Server Console to have more “knobs and buttons“. Windows Home Server is a consumer product targeting broadband connected households with more than 1 home computer. I am surprised that more developers have not built Add-ins that provide mass-market solutions to families and home-based businesses using a home server.
- Where is the web camera add-in?
- Where is the shared contact management solution for home-based businesses?
- Where is the photo sharing web site with a built-in slideshow capability?
Terry Walsh did a post on “How To: Run a Live Webcam on Windows Home Server” back in October. It is a great post for “enthusiasts”, but I wouldn’t call the steps outlined in the post as a “Consumer grade” solution.
The Windows Home Server team published a set of Developer Guidelines a while back on our MSDN site. Anybody thinking about building an add-in (or who has already built an add-in) should take the time to read this document. The document provides a set of design decisions, I will call out 3 specific items:
- Software solutions should work without additional configuration
- Try not to add “knobs and buttons” for the sake of adding lots of options
- The console is not a general-purpose desktop
- The Windows Home Server Console is designed to be an infrequently used application for initial configuration and setup of your home server. Applications that require intensive interaction or use by non-administrators should have a user interface, either as an application that runs on a home computer or as a Web application that is accessible through a browser from a home computer.
- Software must be installed through the Add-in page in Windows Home Server settings
- Consumers should not need to learn how to Remote Desktop into their home server to install new software. Any software that requires a Remote Desktop connection is not “Consumer grade”
What Add-ins do you think are truly “Consumer grade”?