XP Will Tap Web Storage Service

Xdrive tool uploads files to data center.

Microsoft Corp. is including a Web-based file storage service in its upcoming Windows XP operating system.

The service, from Xdrive Technologies Inc., will be accessible through Windows XPs Web Publishing Wizard, allowing users to access their files from any computer or any device with a Web browser, setting permissions so friends or colleagues can access them as well.

It will add a virtual disk drive, labeled X:, to Windows file management utility, Explorer. Any file saved to that drive will be uploaded to Xdrives data center partner, Denver-based Qwest Communications International Inc., said Xdrive CEO Karl Klessig.

"We were sending out these big reports, [and] it gave problems to Outlook. It was a problem that had to be fixed," said John Forgash, IT manager at New York-based Atlantic Records, an AOL Time Warner Inc. company.

Atlantic has used the service from Xdrive for about four months, Forgash said, and has accounts for 40 remote sales and promotional staff. Xdrives security, pricing, speed and training have been impressive, but the account management system could stand improvement, he said.

Microsofts Passport authentication service will also be used with Xdrive.

The service is accessible from a WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) browser on a handheld computer, cell phone or Net appliance, but that functionality will be limited compared with PC access, Klessig said. Collaboration features will be added early next year, and security features are gradually being upgraded from just Secure Sockets Layer to public-key infrastructure.

For the Santa Monica, Calif., company, the deal is a big win. It had about 9 million consumer users before it, like other Web storage services, restructured last summer to target corporate users, which now number more than 100,000, Klessig said. Now, Xdrive may be able to reclaim some of those users.

According to Klessig, the deal is exclusive. However, Windows XP Product Manager Charmaine Grazning said other such services will be part of the operating system, and those will be announced with the Oct. 25 launch of XP, with still others that could be announced later.

The service gives users a 30-day free trial period. After that, prices range from $4.95 a month for 75MB to $1,695 for a 500-user license with 37.5GB.

Separately from Microsoft, Xdrive also sells enterprise and service provider versions of the application.