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Update: Windows Home Server now shipping

System builder software already on sale in New Zealand

August 17, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft Corp. has set the availability date for its upcoming Windows Home Server software as Aug. 27, but is already selling the program outside the U.S at prices between $150 and $200.

Although the company did not trumpet the date, an update to the Support Lifecycle section of Microsoft's Web site listed the release as the last Monday of the month. Noted Windows blogger Long Zheng, who writes the istartedsomething blog, first reported the Lifecycle listing.

Windows Home Server (WHS) was released to manufacturing just over a month ago, on July 16. With that milestone, the code was handed off to Microsoft's internal distribution teams as well as the hardware partners, which will unveil ready-to-go systems later this year. Those resellers include Hewlett-Packard Co., Fujitsu-Siemens Computers, Gateway Inc., Iomega Corp., LaCie Ltd. and Medion AG.

But Microsoft has also said it would sell the software separately to system builders, who can then install WHS on custom-built servers, including ones crafted from recycled hardware. It's the system builder edition that interests the 100,000 WHS enthusiasts who have downloaded the beta and release candidates.

According to several of those eager users, WHS is already available in New Zealand and Australia, and will be shipping shortly in the U.K., where some distributors have posted prices equivalent to $149. "Took delivery of my copy here in New Zealand on Friday 17 August and did a new installation over top of my previous test system," wrote a user identified as amarsh on Microsoft's own WHS forum. WHS prices from New Zealand-based online dealers ranged from $162 to $196.

A Microsoft spokeswoman Friday noted that the company does not release system builder or OEM software pricing, and denied that the Aug. 27 date constituted a product launch. "The only thing that is available on Aug. 27 is tech support for system builders," she said.

Although Microsoft has been coy at times about the ship date for WHS, last month Microsoft senior product manager Joel Sider said the first hardware wave would probably hit in late September or early October. In January, when Microsoft unveiled WHS at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Steven VanRoekel, director of Windows server solutions, said the software would roll out "in the back-to-school-ish time."

WHS's on-time release is news only because Microsoft has had trouble shipping software on schedule lately. Windows Vista's delays have been well documented, but the most recent push-back was by the company's Macintosh team, which two weeks ago said it would not wrap up Office 2008 for Mac this year as it had originally promised.

WHS, which is based on Windows Server 2003 code, provides automatic backup; disk, folder and file restore; file and printer sharing; and remote Web-based access for up to 10 Windows XP or Vista PCs connected by a cabled or wireless network.

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