Brendan Barnicle, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, asserted in a research note Friday that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is likely to launch “Microsoft Home Server” at the Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off here in Las Vegas tonight with a keynote by Bill Gates. (Press events actually started up on Saturday, and continue throughout the day today; the show floor opens Monday morning.)
Barnicle says the server will be the company’s counter to the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTV box, a product likely to get considerable attention on Tuesday at Steve Jobs keynote speech at Macworld in San Francisco. He says the device “will enable Microsoft to offer a central server that can support all home entertainment needs.”
Barnicle says the Microsoft server “will provide significant storage capacity, comparable to the Microsoft Small Business Server, and a wireless access point.” He says the server is likely to be Vista-based device that will integrate with Windows Media Center, home entertainment gear, the Zune and the Xbox 360. Barnicle says Microsoft is manufacturing the hardware.
Barnicle says Microsoft is also going to preview “Windows Live Drive,” which he says will be “a free online storage solution designed to unify all user content among the Windows Live services, potentially including online document storage. He notes that Live Drive will require a “massive data-center build out,” so that “Microsoft may not be ready to actually launch” the service just yet.
One other clue that Microsoft is interested in this market is found in an advertisement stuck onto the front cover of the 154 page CES Pre-Show Planner magazine that I received in the mail weeks ago. The ad reads:
“All together now. Announcing a new way to share, protect, and store what matters most. January 2007.”
I’ll cover the Gates keynote tomorrow.