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HP Windows Home Server box launches

HP's MediaSmart Server out today

HP's MediaSmart Server, the first hardware box with Microsoft's Windows Home Server, will go on sale worldwide today, as the company announces more partner support for its first server operating system aimed specifically for home use.

Hewlett-Packard's MediaSmart Server is set to be available for pre-order on websites including Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com, Buy.com, Circuitcity.com and CompUSA.com. Online retailers will ship the product to customers later in the month, when it also will be available on site at other retail outlets, Microsoft said. HP is selling the product in two versions - a 500GB version available in the US for $599 (£300) and a 1TB version for $749 (£375).

In addition to HP, Microsoft has more than a dozen hardware partners that have signed on to develop offerings with Windows Media Center pre-installed, said Joel Sider, senior product manager, Microsoft.

New hardware partners include Lifeware, Maxdata and Velocity Micro, although only one of the new partner's wares will be on sale today. Velocity Micro's NetMagix HomeServer, based on Windows Home Server and with 1TB of storage, is available today. Lifeware plans to offer a Lifeware Entertainment and Automation Storage server based on Windows Home Server early next year, and the Maxdata's offering, called Belinea o.center, will be available in Europe soon, according to Microsoft.

Other companies that plan to have Windows Home Server hardware available in the next six months include Iomega, Tranquil, Medion and Fujitsu Siemens. Gateway and LaCie, in France, also have signed on to offer Windows Home Server products. System builders Ace Computers, Avantec, PC Club and Universal Systems now offer Windows Home Server on custom boxes.

Tom Kampfer, president of Iomega, which specialises in consumer and small business storage devices, said he liked the idea of combining a storage product with a built-in OS, which is why the company signed on to build a Windows Home Server product. Iomega's Home Center Server, which will be available in the first quarter of 2008, is aimed at providing one place for a family with multiple PCs to store multimedia files and even host and build a website.

"We think it’s a great opportunity for the home user who’s not really technically sophisticated to get a handle on this product," he said.

Microsoft unveiled Windows Home Server, formerly known by the code name Quattro, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. In April the company announced a software development kit for the product so third parties could build applications for it. Sider said there are now 35 software add-ons for the product. Among the applications for Windows Home Server are software for personal blogging and media sharing, home security, home automation and protection against viruses and malware.

More information about Windows Home Server is available on the product's home page on the Microsoft website.

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