Microsoft drops Drive Extender support in next release of Windows Home Server

Boy, this is going to be unpopular. Microsoft is dropping its Drive Extender technology in the next release of Windows Home Server (“Vail”), which is one of the most fundamental parts of the personal server operating system. Drive extender is a pretty great flexible storage system that gives you the redundancy of a RAID setup, but with the flexibility of adding hard drives with different sizes, interfaces and speeds. It really works well – simply open your home server case, connect another drive, reboot and then just “add” the disk to storage pool, no mess, no fuss. In fact you dont know where any specific file is necessarily stored, you just know  its safe.
For example, in my Windows Home Server I have a few different hard drives which give a total of 5TB of storage over 4 disks, to which all my machines backup to. This actually adds up to around 3TB, because I have the choice to have certain folders duplicated over more than one hard drive. For example, documents and photos are duplicated, but movies are not. If any one drive fails, you can be assured the files you value would be somewhere else in your storage pool.

So why did Microsoft drop it?
Microsoft gives the excuse that hard drives have grown so big that such a solution is not necessary anymore. That is ridiculous – in fact, with the bigger sizes of hard drives, I would think that some sort of redundancy becomes even more important. If I now lose a 1TB drive, that is an awful lot of data to lose if it is not duplicated somehow.
Paul Thurrott also revealed that one of the reasons of Drive Extender is that it struggles under heavy server loads, which is not exactly relevant to a home server. This is a concern for Microsoft because DE is going to be used in the upcoming Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, and Microsoft wanted to share this with the platform of Windows Home Server v2 (“Vail”). It really is beyond me why MS would want to unify these two operating systems.
So if you want to switch to WHS version 2 when it comes out, you might have to set up scheduled backups to extra hard drives… How boring. Bad move Microsoft. Vail better have great features when it arrives. Personally I want better power management, Apple Time Machine support, and built in video transcoding support (so that Xbox 360 can finally play any video file). Give me those features, and I might consider upgrading.