Microsoft has announced the general availability of its Windows Storage Server 2003 file and print server software, and several storage hardware and software vendors tagged along with product announcements.

Windows Storage Server 2003 succeeds Windows Powered Network Attached Storage (NAS). Microsoft licenses the product to vendors of NAS devices such as Hewlett-Packard., Dell , EMC and Iomega. Microsoft said each would deliver at least one NAS product based on the Microsoft file server technology.

The announcement had been expected. Microsoft introduced the storage software at its TechED conference in June and at the time said it would deliver the product in September.

Windows Storage Server 2003 is available in an Enterprise Edition for use in enterprise data centers and Standard Edition for use as a dedicated file and print server in a business department, branch office or in small and medium-sized businesses.

The update of the Microsoft storage software, besides a new name, also adds features. The software supports eight-node server clustering, DFS (Distributed File System) and VSS (Volume Shadow Copy) for point-in-time copies, Microsoft said. Windows Storage Server 2003 scales from 160G-bytes to over 40 terabytes, the vendor said.

Coinciding with Microsoft's announcement, several vendors of storage hardware and software announced products around Windows Storage Server 2003. Among them are Dell and Veritas Software.

Dell will offer the new Microsoft software on its PowerVault 770N and 775N systems for small and medium-sized companies at prices starting at US$4,999, it said in a statement. Veritas announced availability of its Storage Replicator for Windows Storage Server 2003, a tool to replicate data in storage systems based on the Microsoft software.