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Microsoft is announcing the availability of its new Windows Home Server product today. The WHS solution is targeted directly at a family audience, helping them to protect, connect and share digital media and documents.

The stay-at-home server delivers the same type of benefits that the corporate and academic server technology markets have been enjoying, but wrapped up within a simple and easy-to-use home solution. So, what do you get? Well WHS will automatically back up either Windows XP-based or Windows Vista-based home computers every night while at the same time providing a central hub for digital document and media organisation, distribution and archiving. Every WHS installation comes with a free Windows Live Internet address to enable access from virtually anywhere, and the ability to share content with friends and family regardless of location. WHS will monitor the health and security status of home computers, stream media to other home devices such as the Xbox 360, and allow consumers to enjoy digital music, photos and videos on their television.

"Digital devices and content are everywhere in our day-to-day lives and they are more important all the time," said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft. "With the launch of Windows Home Server, Microsoft and its partners are creating a new consumer product category that will help people keep their digital media safe and make it easier for them to enjoy it with friends and family."

The HP MediaSmart Server, powered by the AMD LIVE! solution, was designed for the Windows Home Server platform. It provides consumers with easy, more secure access to all their movies, photos, music and documents through any broadband Internet-connected PC. The MediaSmart Server is offered in a 500GB version for $599 (£300) and a 1TB model for $749 (£375) and is available for pre-order now.

"As more and more entertainment content goes digital, people increasingly want a simple way to access, store and enjoy the wide range of photos, personal videos, music and films they enjoy at home. HP and Microsoft have worked closely to bring to market a powerful, breakthrough solution for today's digital lifestyle that lets people personalise the how, when and where of entertainment," said John Orcutt, senior vice president of the Managed Home Business at HP.

But HP is not alone in bringing WHS powered products to the market:

  • Available in Europe in late 2007, the Fujitsu Siemens Computers SCALEO Home Server 1900 offers 1TB capacity across two hard drives, Gigabit Ethernet and advanced power management features.
  • Iomega Corp. today unveiled new details about its home server product due in early 2008, the Iomega HomeCenter Server, which will ship with one 500GB hard drive and four "easy-swap" drive bays for storage expansion.
  • Available in early 2008, the Life|ware Life|storage will offer enterprise-class capabilities to consumers, including Life|ware Entertainment and Automation Server software for home management.
  • The MAXDATA Belinea o.center, which will also be available in Europe soon, is energy-efficient, offers advanced management and media functions, and allows up to four hot plug SATA hard drives.
  • Also available in Europe later this year, the Medion Home Server comes with up to 2 TB of storage capacity and will offer universal plug-and-play media streaming based on PacketVideo PVConnect software.
  • Available now, the Tranquil PC T7-HSA Tranquil Harmony Home Server is a small, quiet and energy-efficient solution with 500GB and 1TB options.
  • On sale today, the Velocity Micro NetMagix HomeServer is a small, sleek unit that can be situated in a horizontal or vertical position, starting with 1 TB of expandable storage capacity.

Third-party software developers have also created add-in programmes to run on the Windows Home Server platform. These solutions provide personal blogging and media sharing, home security, home automation, protection against viruses and malware, and more. Several software vendors today announced support for Windows Home Server:

  • Avira GmbH in Germany today announced that its malware detection and removal technology will support Windows Home Server.
  • Diskeeper Corporation today released a special edition of its Diskeeper 2008 defragmentation software for Windows Home Server.
  • Embedded Automation Inc. released the mControl add-in for Windows Home Server, providing home automation functionality.
  • Proxure Inc. announced the release of KeepVault for Windows Home Server, providing automatic, online backup and storage of data.
  • SageTV LLC released SageTV Media Server for Windows Home Server, enabling media streaming from Windows Home Server to any PC or Macintosh, at home or over the Internet.
  • SightSpeed Inc. announced SightSpeed 6.0 video chat service compatibility with Windows Home Server.
  • Telligent Systems Graffiti CMS is compatible with Windows Home Server, enabling users to quickly create personal Web sites and blogs.
  • WiLife Inc. announced the release of Command Center Software version 2.1 home security software for Windows Home Server.
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