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HP Home Server Hits Market

New York – Hewlett-Packard today introduced its first two MediaSmart home servers, the first devices based on Microsoft’s Home Server operating system.

HP has two SKUs now available for pre-order, one with 500GB of storage for $599 and one with 1TB for $749. The final product is basically unchanged from the original that was shown at International CES last January. Each ships with four hard drive bays and USB ports allowing the user to add storage as needed along with several software applications that help the user set up a personal web site and to organize and display photos and music, said Steven VanRoekel, Microsoft’s director, Windows server solutions.

About 35 other software applications are now available for use on the servers, he said, and Microsoft is actively recruiting third party developers to create more.

The initial roll out is going exclusively through e-tailers, said Allan Buckner, HP’s product manager, personal systems group. Unit’s ordered today are expected to be delivered later this month. CompUSA will be the first chain to sell the servers in store, Buckner said, with the units coming in later this month.

Buckner explained the delayed acceptance of the product in stores by saying a November release date makes it difficult for many stores to take on a new product because the selling floors are already set for the holidays. As the chain’s reset their floors he expects them to add HPs servers.

The servers were originally scheduled to ship in September, but there were delays in finalizing the operating system necessitating the delay, Buckner said.

HP will not remain the exclusive vendor for long. About a dozen other manufacturers, including Gateway, Medio and Velocity Micro are expected to roll out devices based on Home Server in the coming months. The Gateway and Iomega models will hit during the first quarter of 2008, the companies reported.

Microsoft will support the launch with an in-store merchandising effort, VanRoekel said. The devices are expected to be sold in the PC aisle, not in the storage area as originally expected.

VanRoekel also did not think having the tag “server” would cause people to shy away by making the product sound to business-oriented and thus to complicated, particularly since it will initially be bought by a more tech savvy customer.

“We found the server name not so much scared people, but made them sort of proud to say to their neighbors that they had a server at home,” VanRoekel said.