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12/1/2010
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HP Ditches Windows Home Server

Microsoft-based MediaSmart systems will give way to new line of products powered by Palm group's WebOS technology.

Just call them frienemies. Despite inking a $250 million dollar partnership earlier this year to co-develop cloud computing systems, Microsoft and HP are going their separate ways when it comes to home server technology.

Microsoft on Wednesday confirmed that HP will discontinue its line of Windows Home Server-based MediaSmart systems, in favor of products that will run WebOS, which HP obtained as part of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in August.

Losing the world's biggest PC maker as a channel is surely a blow to the Windows Home Server line, but Microsoft insists that other partners will pick up the slack when it releases the next version of the software, known as Vail, next year.

"Microsoft continues to work on delivering 'Vail' to our customers," said a post on the Windows Home Server team blog. "We are working very closely with our partners such as Acer, Tranquil, and many system builders to bring the best solution to market," said Microsoft.

Microsoft's OEM partners also have big expectations for Vail.

"Vail will have a big impact on the home media environment, providing an easy streaming and seamless digital file sharing experience for consumers, and Acer is excited to to be alongside Microsoft delivering on this goal," said Gianpiero Morbello, corporate marketing VP for Acer, in a statement.

Execs at Tranquil, a Manchester, UK-based system builder, are also backing the technology. "We are entirely committed to the future of Windows Home Server V1 and V2," said D J Thompson, Tranquil PC's managing director. "We will also ensure that there is a suitable transition path from V1 to V2 [Vail]," said Thompson.

HP's decision to ditch Vail is but the latest source of friction between the partners. The company also raised eyebrows this year when it canceled a line of tablets that was to be built around Windows 7, despite the fact that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer personally pitched the devices at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

HP also is looking to WebOS for those systems.

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