HP today announced an immediate withdrawal from the Windows Home Server market.

In a briefing earlier this month, the company explained that the recent acquisition of Palm had led to a shift in business priorities across the organisation, resulting in the decision to drop the HP MediaSmart Server range. Existing inventory of the EX490 and EX495 will be sold through over the holidays, whilst the company have committed to supporting existing customers through to the end of their support periods.

Meanwhile, the MediaSmart development team have already been broken up and re-deployed elsewhere in the organisation, most notably to support the further development of WebOS devices in 2011.

The move will be seen as a significant blow to Microsoft, who partnered with HP throughout the development of the first Windows Home Server release and launch of the MediaSmart Server back in 2007. Whilst the company did not make any connection between their decision to drop Windows Home Server and Microsoft’s recent announcement to cull Drive Extender from the platform’s next release, lower than expected sales undoubtedly contributed to the demise of the MediaSmart Server, with little hope of a meaningful sales boost from next year’s hobbled release.

Work on a 2011 Vail-powered MediaSmart Server had been ongoing throughout the year – I had lengthy discussions with the company earlier this year regarding their development plans for the product. Today’s announcement and a recent agreement with Data Robotics Inc to sell the Drobo range through the HP Small Business Direct Store clearly demonstrate that the company have moved on to support other solutions. With Microsoft’s lead hardware partner out of the picture, the question now is whether Microsoft can retain platform support from Acer, ASUS, Lenovo and LaCie for the next generation home server SKU.

HP stressed that today’s announcement only affects the consumer HP MediaSmart Server line. Plans to support forthcoming Small Business Server SKUs, namely Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials have yet to be formally announced by the company.

Update: Microsoft have responded to HP’s announcement over at the Windows Team Blog, quoting support for Vail from Acer, Tranquil PC and…. we said Acer, right?

This news is in no way related to recent announcements about feature changes in Windows Home Server “Vail.”

Microsoft continues to work on delivering ”Vail” to our customers. We are working very closely with our partners such as Acer, Tranquil and many System Builders to bring the best solution to market.

From our partners:

  • 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 be alongside Microsoft delivering on this goal” says Gianpiero Morbello, Acer Group Corporate Vice President Marketing & Brand.
  • “We are entirely committed to the future of Windows Home Server V1 and V2.” says D J Thompson, Managing Director of Tranquil PC, “We will also ensure that there is a suitable transition path from V1 to V2 for our existing and new clients.”

You can read a longer statement from Tranquil PC over on their blog.