Microsoft started shipping its Merchant Server 1.0 Internet commerce package today and brought together leading vendors who are using the software to create sites. Tesco, Jaguar, Shoppers Universe and ICL were among early adopters of the Merchant Server beta. Merchant Server 1.0 requires a server licence (£12,500 per server) and an administration licence (£3,000).
"This is about bringing a group of industries together," said Simon Brown, Microsoft's head of Internet commerce. "This is not about one particular software vendor doing one thing. Everything we invest now is pretty much on the Internet and a significant proportion is on commerce."
Microsoft said it saw several problem areas in Internet shopping: "Firstly, for many consumers it's quicker to pick up the phone," said Julie Cox, group marketing manager for business systems. "Second, there's a significant lack of content on the Net today and Web pages are static and unpersonalised. Also, there's a perception that its an insecure environment." Cox maintained that Merchant Server will help companies address these issues.
Separately, the Redmond, Washington giant used today's platform to preview Windows NT 5.0, which will go into beta in the middle of next year, and reiterated its commitment to the intelligent Active Platform interface. "The user will use the [Web-style] pages and links metaphor consistently," said Cox. "Under the Active Platform [the user] doesn't necessarily know they're in an application at all."
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