Ask Paul: Windows Home Server/Essentials Connector and Windows 10?

Posted on July 25, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 0

Ask Paul: Windows Home Server/Essentials Connector and Windows 10?

This is a topic that will either mean quite a bit to you, or nothing at all. But I’ve received a number of questions about the compatibility of Windows 10 with products like Windows Home Server and Windows Server Essentials. Finally, Microsoft has provided an answer.

Here’s a typical example of this question, in this case from Bill W.:

Do you know whether/if Microsoft has plans to release a working Connector for Windows Server Essentials R2 for Windows 10 by the release date of Windows 10?  Anyone relying on the server for backup/system support will be precluded from installing Windows 10 on clients until a working Connector is available.

He’s right. Here’s the issue.

For about a decade now, Microsoft has sold at least one Windows Server product aimed at consumers, prosumers, home offices, and very small businesses. The first few were called Windows Home Server (WHS), but after Microsoft ended that product line, it created something called Windows Server Essentials (WSE) with slightly broader ambitions.

WHS and WSE have a lot in common, but one of those similar features is Connector, software that is installed on any client-based PCs—Windows PCs and Macs—to control backups, remote access, and other functions, and supply the Dashboard server management experience. On WSE in particular, Connector is how clients join the domain you’ve created on the server.

The problem is, this software was created for previous Windows versions. And on the latest version of WSE, Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2, Connector is not compatible with Windows 10. So here’s what’s happening.

If you have Windows Home Server 2011 or Windows Server Essentials 2012 (not R2)—or the related Small Business Server 2011 Essentials—there’s nothing to do, everything works. This means you can use the in-box Connector software to connect Windows 10 clients with no issues, and that built-in services such as PC backup and restore will work.

If you are running Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2, the in-box Connector software doesn’t currently work. Microsoft will “soon” release a Windows 10-compatible Connector, and release it via its Download Center web site. At first, you will need to manually install this new Connector on Windows 10 clients from the web. But Microsoft says it expects to add this new Connector to WSE 2012 R2 in October 2015.

UPDATE: Microsoft has already released the Windows 10 compatible version of the Connector software for WSE 2012 R2. –Paul

You can find a more detailed—and confusing—explanation of this on Microsoft’s Windows Server Essentials and Small Business Server Blog.

Thanks to Joshua H. for tipping me off to this answer, which I had posed to Microsoft on Twitter earlier this week.

Tagged with