It's been a long (long!) time since we've caught wind of a substantial Windows Home Server refresh, but for those waiting on pins and needles, we're thrilled to say that the excruciating wait has finally ended. Sort of. Microsoft has revealed today its public beta of the next version of WHS, code named "Vail." The primary upgrades / changes include the extension of media streaming outside of the home or office, improvements in multi-PC backup and restore, simplified setup and user experience as well as "significantly" expanded development and customization tools for partner. Beyond that, the company's playing things pretty close to the chest, but you can feel free to grab a 64-bit copy of the beta starting today and dig in yourself. 'Course, Microsoft recommends that you install the software on a secondary (read: not important to your livelihood) machine, and on the development front, it's introducing a new SDK for those who wish to "create add-in applications using Vail's new extensible programming model." So, whatcha waiting for? That download is a-callin', and a brief demo video is just beyond the break.

Update: And we've already got our first review -- good for those too chicken (or busy, frankly) to completely wipe a second PC just to see how Vail stacks up.

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