Hey, guys, don't knock it!
This sounds like a great idea to me (if it works as described). Unfortunately, you probably need to be running Windows in order to use it.
Sure, it has been possible for a long time to set up computers as file servers. You can do this in Windows and of course, in Linux. However, setting up a file server has been an extremely geeky task. This Windows Home Server promises to be easy enough for average users to set up a file server.
It does mean you have to have a computer running whenever you want to access to the files. I don't like to use the power for a whole computer and I hate the noise. It also takes a fair amount of room, which is at a premium here.
I think NAS is a better solution. Unfortunately, as I found out when I was deciding how to add storage for all my photos and media files so any computer on my network could use them whether running Linux or Windows, NAS drives that work in an OS-agnostic way cost quite a bit more than I could afford (my limit was about $250 for 500 gigs). The cheaper NAS drives all seem to want Windows for their software that enabled sharing. I found one that looked as if it could be set up for Linux sharing (though not easily), but there were things about it that I didn't like.
A file server is also limited by the transfer rates of your 10/100 Ethernet and when we're talking large media files, a pokey transfer is not what you want. 10/100/1000 would be much better, but for that I'd need new hardware and I suppose new cable, and GrampaGeek would *not* appreciate another hands-and-knees job in the crawl space to run new Ethernet cable from my home office to the other locations.
I wound up buying a 500-gig drive to replace a 200-gig drive in my Sempron desktop. The media files will be stored there. Since that very quiet computer is almost always on, the laptop and the other desktop will simply access those files over the network. Saves me quite a bit of money. I have external hard drives for backing up all the media files. Currently 2 200-gig externals and a 160-gig external, and I'll put the 200-gig drive I'm removing from the computer into an external hard drive case for even more backup storage.
My first hard drive was 20 megs. I now have a little flash drive that holds 100 times as much.