Microsoft finishes development of its computer cluster operating system.

Affordable if you can pay a few hundred dollars, but it could bring personal supercomputing closer to reality.

"The software maker said Friday that it has finalized the code for Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, which is designed to allow multiple servers to work together to handle high-performance computing (HPC) tasks. Such work, long handled by systems from SGI and Cray, has increasingly been tackled by Linux clusters, though Microsoft has been planning its entry for some time.

Microsoft is also pushing the idea of "personal supercomputing"--the idea that individual researchers, business analysts and engineers can benefit from harnessing the power of multiple computers.

The Compute Cluster software will sell for an estimated $469 per node, less than the company's standard server OS price. The cost of Windows Server varies based on the version of the operating system, but the standard edition with the ability to connect to five computers has a suggested price of $999."