Microsoft Punting Windows Home Server 2011 As Poor Man's Windows 7?

We've noticed over the last few weeks that Microsoft has cut the price of its Windows Home Server 2011 operating system by more than half to £36.86, a price that includes VAT and delivery.

The price cut is not limited to the UK and there's plenty of stock around (note that it is the CCQ-00128, an OEM version, but customers can expect to get both the OEM preinstallation kit and a standard DVD installer).

Newegg and Tigerdirect, two of the biggest online retailers in the US, have also cut the price of the OS with Microsoft being particularly quiet about a decision that is bound to turn heads.

At this point, two questions can be asked: Why has Microsoft cut the price of Windows Home Server 2011 so aggressively so early in the lifetime of the product, and can it replace a bog-standard installation of Windows 7?

Wegotserved suggests that Microsoft's partners may have to hit targets in order to get goodies (like marketing budgets and coop funds) from the software giant and are therefore cutting the price of WHS2011 to boost sales (and get some free marketing).

Some have also mentioned that the move could be linked to Apple's decision to cut the price of its equivalent OS, Lion server, to a rock bottom £34.99, down from around £210 for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server OS with unlimited clients.

For most uses, Windows Home Server 2011 can be used as a cheaper OS replacement instead of Windows 7 Professional, which is more than twice as expensive in the UK plus you do get a few goodies as well.

You won't be able to use it on a non 64-bit computer and the hardware requirements for WHS 2011 are much higher than for Windows 7 32-bit. You shall need at least a 1.4GHz single core x86-64 CPU, 2GB RAM and a 160GB hard disk drive plus there have been reports of incompatibility given that WHS2011 is based on Windows 2008 R2.

As for the reasons for purchasing WHS 2011, there's the ability to schedule automatic backup, simplified remote access to data and PCs, network health monitoring, the ability to convert a PC into a streaming server and HomeGroup integration.

Many have complained about the fact that it is extremely difficult to upgrade from any OS to WHS 2011 and the removal of one of its most loved feature, Drive Extender, possibly due to data error issues.