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Microsoft updates home server software

New version, expected to be incorporated in devices out this fall, touted as easier to configure, works with third-party programs.

Microsoft this week released an updated test version of its new home server software, as it aims to get the software on devices later this year.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced plans for Windows Home Server at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, touting the promise that such devices hold for helping households manage their collections of digital media, such as photos and videos.

Gates said that HP had already signed on to incorporate the new software into a MediaSmart Server due out this fall.

With the latest version, Microsoft said it has made it easier to configure the server, including a 7-step setup process as well as new remote access abilities. Microsoft said that about 60,000 people are already participating in the beta program.

Servers running the new test software will also be able to run programs written using a home server software developer kit that Microsoft released earlier this month.

The official release of the updated test software follows a recent leak of a Home Server test build onto the Web. Microsoft said it tracked down the person behind the unauthorized posting.

"The leak was unfortunate, and we took action to find the parties responsible," Microsoft said on its Home Server blog. "We are happy to report that has happened."