Microsoft beefs up e-commerce platform

Microsoft is due to ship the beta of Commerce Server 2000, with which the software company intends to add some beef to its e-commerce platform.

The server, due for release in the fourth quarter, is the next generation of Microsoft Site Server Commerce Edition and has been redesigned to host electronic storefronts or "sell-side" commerce. The server has a new product catalogue system, management tools and online analytical processing-based reporting tools. It also features enhanced data mining and profiling capabilities.

Those features help companies tailor delivery of content to electronic buyers, such as offering discounts to repeat customers or special offers to first-time visitors.

But Commerce Server does have other features that could get users started including sophisticated search features, a graphical editor for managing business processes such as checkout and shipping, and reporting tools for data mining. A feature called Business Desk has more than 20 modules that let site managers review reports, create marketing campaigns, update product data, check order status and modify profiles. Those capabilities should help Commerce Server compete against IBM's WebSphere Commerce Suite.

"We made all the components more tightly integrated so we could extract rich information that users can drive reports against to develop campaigns and profiles. We call that closing the loop," said Rebekkah Kumar, Commerce Server 2000 product manager.

Commerce Server 2000 requires Win 2000 Server and Microsoft SQL Server 7 or 2000. It is a key element of Microsoft's Windows DNA platform for building Web-based applications and is priced per processor.

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