At its annual TechEd conference, Microsoft Corp. on Monday introduced Windows Storage Server 2003 – the successor to its popular Windows Powered NAS product. Already, OEMs are lining up to license the latest version.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and EMC Corp. have both indicated they’ll release products featuring the new file server near September – the same time Microsoft says the product will ship.

According to Charles Vallhonrat, a product marketing manager at Hewlett-Packard’s infrastructure and NAS division, HP is already working with Microsoft and is receiving code. This, he says, is an extension of a long-standing partnership with Microsoft. HP released its first NAS product based on Microsoft code in July 2000.

“We’re looking through it now and plan to adopt it in our product lines going forward,” said Vallhonrat. “We like what we’ve seen.”

The Windows Storage Server 2003 is the successor to Windows Powered NAS – a file server technology that Microsoft licenses to OEMs of NAS (network attached storage) devices such as HP, EMC, IBM, Iomega, Dell, NEC, and Fujitsu. Each has delivered at least one NAS product based on the file server technology.

Besides a new name, the file server also has a number of new features including support for clustering of NAS devices, point in time copying, and file replication and hooks into its Windows Server System – the overarching suite that provides management of the different components such as BizTalk Server and Exchange Server.

According to Claude Lorenson, product manager at Microsoft’s enterprise storage division, Storage Server 2003 will ship in September. Besides HP, EMC has also said they’ll deliver product based on the new file server as soon as this year.

Vallhonrat explains HP is excited about the fact that some well-known NAS features are now integrated into the server, He explains that previously, HP had to license some of these features such as snapshot and clustering capabilities from other vendors besides Microsoft. He adds by integrating the features into the Microsoft product, HP will be able to more quickly get new NAS product out to the market.

Also today, HP introduced StorageWorks NAS s1000, a low-end NAS device based on Microsoft’s Windows Powered NAS software.