CES: Acer also releases Windows Home Server

Follows on heels of Shuttle Computer and Via Technologies, which are also building WHS systems

In another much-needed sign of momentum for Windows Home Server, Acer Inc. said today it is building a home server running the Microsoft operating system.

The Acer Aspire EasyStore Home Server joins WHS systems announced at the International CES by two other Taiwanese manufacturers, Shuttle Computer Group Inc. and Via Technologies Inc.

The EasyStore will run an energy-efficient Intel Atom 230 CPU, and hold up to 4 SATA hard drives.

Hewlett-Packard Co. also announced two new models of its MediaSmart line of Windows Home Servers a week ago. The new HP EX485 and EX487 automatically back up Macs as well as Windows PCs.

Released a little more than a year ago, sales of WHS systems last year likely totaled just 80,000 worldwide, according to IDC. With many homes in developed countries running multiple PCs, the research firm expects strong sales of home servers within four years. But analysts also warned that the economic downturn could cause users to turn to cheaper network-attached storage (NAS) boxes or forego centralized storage products altogether, for now.

The announcement was made on Acer's U.K. Web site and noted on Microsoft's Windows Home Server Team Blog.

"The Acer EasyStore will be released in the U.K., Taiwan and Japan starting in March, a Microsoft spokesman said. "There is no timetable for its release in the U.S." Prices for the EasyStore were also not disclosed.

Acer, the third-largest PC maker in the world behind HP and Dell Inc., already sold NAS boxes under the Aspire EasyStore name.

NAS boxes offer large amounts of storage at a cheaper price than full-fledged Windows Home Servers, but fewer management and backup features.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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