Microsoft Readies Commerce Server Beta Release

FRAMINGHAM (06/29/2000) - Microsoft Corp. yesterday said it's almost ready to release a beta-test version of Commerce Server 2000, the promised successor to the company's Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition e-commerce software.

The beta code is scheduled to become available within two weeks, and Microsoft said users and developers can register to take part in the testing program on its Web site. Commerce Server 2000 is due for commercial release this fall, the company added.

The update to Site Server will sport a new tool called the "Business Desk," a Web page that lets business managers control aspects of an e-commerce site such as running reports or managing price promotions and e-mail campaigns. Microsoft said Commerce Server 2000 also will come with a new Product Catalog feature for managing products and pricing.

In addition, the software will include built-in links to Microsoft's upcoming BizTalk Server 2000, which is expected to ship later this year. When a customer order is processed by Commerce Server, it will be able to automatically generate an XML-based purchase order that can be routed to other systems by BizTalk, said Rebekkah Kumar, a lead product manager at Microsoft. However, Commerce Server doesn't require BizTalk, Kumar said.

Like most other new server products due from Microsoft this year, Commerce Server will be priced on a per-processor basis. Pricing has been set at $8,499 per processor, which in many cases will result in a higher total cost for users than what they pay for the current Site Server software, Microsoft acknowledged.

Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition is priced at about $6,500 per server with unlimited users. "There were a lot of reasons that led us to believe that Site Server Commerce Edition was underpriced," Kumar said, adding that Microsoft also is building a broader set of features into the Commerce Server product.

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