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Microsoft recruits EMC for storage push

The software giant signs EMC as a partner in its effort to break into storage. The deal gives EMC a chance to compete with Dell and HP in the Windows-based storage market.

LAS VEGAS--EMC is joining forces with Microsoft to attack the lower reaches of the network-attached storage market.

Next quarter, the storage giant will release a product that combines its Clariion disc array with an Intel-based server and Microsoft's Windows operating system, EMC announced Monday.

The move is a boost to Microsoft's two-year-old effort to crack a way into the storage business. EMC is following industry heavyweights Hewlett-Packard and Dell Computer into the burgeoning Windows-based storage market.

"We are very committed to making sure our technologies are more and more important every year in storage," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told those attending the EMC Technology Summit, which takes place this week at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center here. "We think we are going to win a lot of NAS (network-attached storage) business together."

EMC said its product, dubbed NetWin, will fall into the $50,000 to $135,000 price range. That's higher than other Windows-based systems but below EMC's own Celerra systems.

As part of the Microsoft deal, EMC is abandoning efforts to bring its Celerra product to lower price points. It currently starts at around $135,000. "We are not hedging our bets," said EMC vice president Chuck Hollis. "This is it."

Network Appliance and HP dismissed EMC's announcement, saying that EMC is charging more for the same kind of Windows-based storage products that have been on the market for some time.

"The exact same product exists from other companies at lower prices--EMC has added no incremental intellectual value," a Network Appliance representative said in an e-mail.

In addition to competing with other Windows-based products, NetWin will go up against products from Network Appliance, BlueArc and others.

As for which Intel-based servers will be sold as part of NetWin, EMC CEO Joe Tucci said that his company would sell gear from partners Dell and Fujitsu-Siemens. Tucci said that EMC intends to sell NetWin direct, though he expected most sales to come through resellers.