Microsoft outlines e-commerce strategy

Looking to strengthen its status in the electronic-commerce marketplace, Microsoft is working on several products and services intended to allow applications to interoperate for business. Key to the Microsoft strategy will be BizTalk, a framework that evolved from the Commerce Interchange Pipeline as a combination of the Component Object Model (COM) and Extensible Markup Language (XML).

Looking to strengthen its status in the electronic-commerce marketplace, Microsoft is working on several products and services intended to allow applications to interoperate for business.

Key to the Microsoft strategy will be BizTalk, a framework based on the Extensible Markup Language (XML) that enables the exchange of business data among applications. BizTalk evolved from the Commerce Interchange Pipeline as a combination of the Component Object Model (COM) and XML , said Satya Nadella, general manager for e-commerce at Microsoft.

With BizTalk as the glue, Microsoft intends to put XML support in all of its Office, BackOffice, and Windows software programs. Microsoft also announced the latest version of Site Server Commerce Edition, now called Microsoft Commerce Server, and Small Business Commerce Services.

"Over the next few years you are going to see Microsoft and others taking XML and designing schemas," said Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates.

The use of XML should be essential for commerce, and will change the dynamics between competing commerce application vendors, according to analysts.

"At the XML schema level, it is not proprietary," said Martin Marshall, Internet server service director at Zona Research, in Redwood City, Calif. "IBM could come in and implement the same schema that Microsoft hopes to drive using Enterprise JavaBeans, even though Microsoft would implement it using COM. That's rather necessary as companies do business as virtual companies."

Microsoft also is forming a new Microsoft Network (MSN) Open Marketplace Strategy, which will include advertising, promotion, distribution, and searching capabilities. Additionally, the company announced that it has acquired online comparison-shopping service CompareNet to augment the MSN searching capabilities.

The company also unveiled Microsoft Passport, which aims to facilitate faster, more secure consumer transactions by storing users' personal information online. Microsoft also announced, as part of a number of alliances, an alliance with MasterCard and Clarus for a corporate-purchasing relationship for streamlining business purchases using MasterCard corporate accounts.

Microsoft intends to introduce the BizTalk system during the next year, with beta versions of BizTalk Server, Commerce Server, and Small Business Commerce Service available this summer.

Microsoft , in Redmond, Wash., is at www.microsoft.com.

Talking `bout BizTalk

Several third parties pledged support for Microsoft's BizTalk framework.

* Baan

* CyberCash

* Entrust Technologies

* Great Plains Software

* Harbinger

* J.D. Edwards & Co.

* Lawson Software

* Live Picture

* Netegrity

* Nippon Telegraph & Telephone

* Pandesic

* PeopleSoft

* Platinum Software

* Quintus

* SAP

* Silknet Software

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