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Microsoft backs up disk-based backup plans

With 20 partners already lined up, analysts speculate that the software giant will focus on the market's low end--at least initially.

Looking to get further into the storage business, Microsoft announced on Monday that it plans to enter the market for disk-based backup and recovery products.

The company, however, will be entering a segment of the storage market that is already crowded with such established players as Veritas Software. Analysts anticipate that Microsoft will focus on the low end of the market and later try to penetrate the high end, on which Veritas focuses.

"Customers are telling us that backing up and recovering their data is labor-intensive and complex," Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's Windows Server Division, said in a statement. "Exponential growth of business-critical data and new government regulations are increasing the cost and complexity of backup and recovery, forcing companies to rethink their data protection planning."

Microsoft has been gaining ground in the broader storage market in recent years. The company's main product is Windows Storage Server 2003, a version of Windows Server 2003 that's tailored for network-attached storage devices.

The new product, the Data Protection Server, is scheduled to hit the market in the second half of next year. Pricing information was not yet available.

Microsoft, however, already has 20 Data Protection Server partners lined up, ranging from Quantum to Seagate Technology to Sun Microsystems.

CNET News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this report.