With Microsoft's eagerly anticipated Windows Home Server (WHS) released to manufacturing (RTM) last month, some have predicted that the product would ship to customers as early as next week. That's not the case, according to Microsoft: WHS will ship in late September or perhaps early October.

WHS is a stripped down version of Windows Server designed for home networks. It provides several core features, including multiple PC backup, easily expandable and managed storage, remote access, and digital media and document sharing. WHS will ship primarily through PC and hardware makers with new hardware, which is the reason for the long delay between RTM and general availability. Companies such as Dell, HP, Iomega, Lacie, and others have signed on to sell WHS-based servers.

That said, individuals will be able to purchase just the WHS software as well, via certain Web retailers, and install it on their own hardware. Microsoft has yet to provide pricing information for WHS, but according to online retailers, the software will sell for $150 to $200.

To bolster WHS, Microsoft has made the system fully extensible via software add-ins, and the company is hosting a contest called the Windows Home Server Code2Fame Challenge that will reward the developers of the coolest WHS add-ins. The Code2Fame Challenge closes on August 31, 2007 and will be judged in late September. Full disclosure: I am one of the judges of this contest and am looking forward to seeing what people come up with.

While WHS is complete, I'm waiting on some shipping hardware before providing a final review. In the meantime, you can read my review of the WHS Beta/CTP releases on the SuperSite for Windows.