Windows Home Server 2011 is, I believe, based on Microsoft's Small Business Server 2008 product, and it carries many of the same kinds of server optimization and management tools that you'd expect to find in a dedicated server OS. Depending on which flavor of Windows 7 you're comparing it to, those tools may or may not be available to you. The backup feature of WHS2011 has been problematic for me. I have one HTPC that will not back up no matter what form of persuasion I apply, and I've never had to do a restore yet, so I don't know what is involved in that. My server also hosts shared directories for all of our content (documents, movies, music, recorded TV, etc..). I also host a network printer and my InfiniTV card (which provides HD tuners over the network to the HTPC's).
In the end, WHS is cheaper than 7 and has the features that make it useful for the media applications that I use it for. You could use 7 for all these things, but configuring it might be more of a headache. WHS2011 is "turn key".. install, configure, connect PC's and you're off and running.