Talking Microsoft’s Home Server on banks of the Rhein

Had a wonderful day in Basel yesterday. Went and visited my mom’s birthplace (she was born and lived in a house near the Swiss border in Weil am Rhein — her parents ran a restaurant on the first floor, they lived on second). Found it ironic that it’s now a strip club in half of it, and a Chinese Restaurant in the other.

Martin Spedding (he works at Microsoft helping out the local pharma companies, which are very large) gave us a wonderful tour. Starting at the Museum Tinguely. Full of fascinating art pieces built from junk. Highly recommended. After that we walked down the Rhein.

Aside: Google just switched to German on me. Why does it assume I speak German just because my packets are coming from Germany? Grrrrrr. Ich spreche kein Deutsch! It should know that I’ve been hitting it from this computer for months from the United States and that that is my home base. I can’t even read Google now, so I have no idea how to change the default back to English. I just did a search on “Rhein” and it took me to the German Wikipedia, too. Double Grrrrrr.

Along the way he was raving about his new Microsoft Home Server.

The problem with the Home Server is going to be marketing. Already mentions of it have totally died off. Geeks already know how to setup their own servers, so don’t think another server is needed. People like my aunt are barely computer literate, so have no idea that a server exists or what it’d be useful for (and, since the geeks don’t exactly get thrilled about the idea, they sure aren’t going to take the time to explain it to her).

It’s too bad, too, because if they could just spend a bit of time listening to Martin they’d see there’s a really great reason to get a Home Server. First, it’s a headless server. Just bring the box home, plug it into your router, and control it from other PCs or Macs in your house. Second, it’s a great way to store music, photos, videos, and works with Xbox 360’s Media Extender technology. That’s another thing that’s hard to explain to people. It’s one of the coolest things about Xbox 360: that it can play music, photos, videos stored on a PC or Home Server kept somewhere else in your house.

Martin explained the Home Server is very good at backing up your stuff and gets faster and faster at that over time due to incremental backup technology built for Windows Server 2003. He also raved about its remote-access features so he could get to his home stash of photos and such, even when he travels to Microsoft in the states.

Anyway, getting a pitch while walking along the Rhein was a lot of fun. I hope to interview Charlie Kindel (he runs the Home Server group) when I visit Seattle later this month right before the Northern Voice conference.

Oh, another aside? If you search Google for “Microsoft Home Server” you don’t find any Microsoft Web site in the result set. Same if you search on Even the official Microsoft Home Server blog doesn’t show up. It’s even harder to get marketing success when your own blog and home page don’t show up on your own search engine!

Anyway, tonight we’ll be be at Martinsbräu in Freiburg at 6 p.m. See you there! Everyone is invited. Oh, and my cell phone works just fine, albeit is very expensive to answer. +1 (425) 205-1921.