One of the crowning features of Windows Home Server, which Microsoft announced it was cutting as part of the next major version of the OS, is set to return with the help of some third-party software makers.

Drive pooling, which lets users take multiple hard drives and turn them into one solid block of storage was made possible by a feature called Drive Extender. In November, Microsoft announced it would be removing the feature in the second major version of the Windows Home Server software, code-named Vail, citing higher-capacity commodity hard drives as making the feature obsolete.

Users cried fowl, prompting Microsoft to say that the decision had been "incredibly hard." And earlier this month, Microsoft followed through on its promise, cutting the feature in its first release candidate of the software.

Not to worry though--as WeGotServed notes--developers DataCore software, Division M, and StableBit are all working on add-ins for Windows Home Server 2011 that will bring the feature back. The first of those, called Drive Bender from Division M, is slated to arrive early next week, with StableBit's DrivePool add-in, and DataCore's Storage Virtualization to arrive later on. All three solutions bring back the capability to pool together multiple drives, with DataCore's solution promising to add in new features like drive mirroring.

The news should be welcomed by current Windows Home Server users who had wanted to update to the newer version of the software when it arrives, without losing their current configurations. As it stands, Microsoft's upgrade path had been to have users copy all of their home server data to external drives before making the switch to the newer version of the operating system.

Windows Home Server was first introduced by Bill Gates at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2007 as a way for home users to store, share, and stream media and other files, attach networked printers, and save PC backups from multiple machines. The final version of the software is expected to arrive sometime in the first half of this year.

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