Microsoft released the final version of its Internet SCSI (iSCSI) driver for Windows, which has been in beta form since earlier this year. The software package, which includes an iSCSI initiator service and iSCSI initiator software driver, is available from Microsoft's site for Windows 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) approved the iSCSI standard in February. iSCSI is expected to connect nearly 1.5 million servers to Storage Area Networks (SANs) by 2006, according to research firm Gartner Dataquest.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

   The Microsoft iSCSI package includes support for data encryption, including IP Security (IPSec); Internet Storage Name Service (iSNS); management through Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI); and a common framework for iSCSI. The release of the official driver from Microsoft is expected to help the growth of iSCSI devices for Windows.