Microsoft is hoping a makeover and security upgrade will attract more customers to its Windows Marketplace e-commerce site.
The re-designed site, launched on Monday, has a new look and feel and some additional functionality, the software maker claims.
Windows Marketplace — basically an online market for Windows-related products, but not Windows itself — was launched three years ago and has been slow to get widespead adoption. But this new version is a bid to gain that acceptance.
Microsoft has added a new feature called Digital Locker as part of the re-design. An extension of Microsoft Passport, the locker offers a way for customers to purchase and download software, track purchase history and store software licence information in a secure environment, the company claims.
Digital Locker can track purchase history and software licences, as well as personal information, Microsoft said
Microsoft Passport is Microsoft's own method for validating and authorising transactions and the company is trying to have it accepted as a standard. For Microsoft, Marketplace is an important part of that process, giving the Passport more users and hence, the company hopes, more acceptance.
Microsoft has extended the number of software titles available on Marketplace, with more top games and utilities as well as free titles.
The site is also one of the first to be based on the look and feel of the upcoming Vista operating system.
Windows Marketplace now has more than 150,000 products and 60,000 downloadable software titles along with a selection of Windows-based software, hardware and peripherals, Microsoft claims.
According to Joe Peterson, vice president of the Market Expansion Platforms Group at Microsoft, with the addition of Digital Locker, Microsoft has "made it safer and more secure for customers to discover and download the best products available for Windows".
It is the place "customers can go to find any products for Windows and feel confident in purchasing and downloading them," Peterson added.
Microsoft has high hopes for the Digital Locker and believes it will get around one of the problems of downloading large files — what happens when a download fails halfway through.
The locker also analyses downloads at the bit level, so it can track a download and, if it fails, go back and pick up the download again at the point of failure, Microsoft claims.