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November 5, 2008 4:23 PM

Windows Home Server price cut, plus surprising storage stats

Posted by Brier Dudley

I was beginning to wonder if Microsoft would jettison Windows Home Server, now that its executive champion has turned to philanthropy while the company begins pitching Windows 7 and its Live Mesh platform as great ways to share files among multiple PCs.

But the WHS team is making noise again, coinciding with Microsoft's developer conferences over the past couple of weeks in Los Angeles.

Last week it demonstrated how WHS can work with Mesh and rolled out a new "Feng Shui"-themed marketing campaign.

The team blog also announced that the software price for system builders was cut by 30 percent and it's now available for as little as $99.99 (from

That's just the software, for people installing it on their own hardware. It sounds like a fun winter project, since it doesn't take much of a computer to run and hard-drives are so cheap.

Also, the price of pre-built systems is still pretty high, especially compared with the huge variety of external storage and backup devices available nowadays.

So far the only major PC maker to offer prebuilt Windows Home Server systems is Hewlett-Packard, which has been cutting prices with rebates. They're now just under $500 for a 500-gigabyte model.

HP hasn't released any new models, beyond the initial two released when WHS launched exactly one year ago, and the company didn't have anything to say when I asked recently about the next versions.

Some smaller PC companies are building the servers, but the most interesting models are going only to Asian markets.

Yet people who bought Windows Home Servers are apparently using them heavily.

According to statistics compiled by Microsoft and shared on the team blog Tuesday, 29 percent of users have added four or more hard drives on their home servers.

"Lots and lots" of customers have more than 10 drives attached to the servers, and anonymous user data has shown systems with up to 27 drives attached.

So far the largest amount of available disk space that Microsoft has seen is 22.06 terabytes.

The company's also seen users with up to 19.32 terabytes of disk space used on their Windows Home Servers.

For perspective, the team noted that all 420-plus episodes of "The Simpsons" would take more than 600 gigabytes, and a full season of an NFL team's games recorded in high-def would fill more than a terabyte.

(They must not be Seahawks fans, or they wouldn't be thinking about saving any games this fall...)

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.