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Microsoft free tool speeds Web site creation

The company releases a free software tool intended to make its Windows operating system more attractive to Net service providers by enabling them to create a new site in less than five minutes.

Microsoft has released a free software tool intended to make its Windows operating systems more attractive to Internet service providers.

The Web Site Provisioning Tool allows Internet service providers (ISPs) to create and organize new hosted Web sites running on Windows 2000 servers.

Co-developed with software hosting firm Interland, the new tool, made available yesterday, will help an ISP create a new Web site in less than five minutes, the company claims. Once the Web site has been built, the administration of the Web site can be passed on to the customer.

Microsoft claims it currently takes more than 35 minutes to create a new hosted site on Windows 2000.

The software giant in January made a $5 million investment in Atlanta-based Interland. At the time, the software hosting firm said it would use the investment to develop products and services based on Windows 2000 for the application hosting market.

Interland, which provides companies with hosting services ranging from supporting a Web site to establishing an e-commerce storefront, also participates in Microsoft's Office application rental program, announced last year. Under the program, customers access Microsoft's Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other Office software over the Internet instead of installing the applications on their PCs.

Making applications available over the Internet is the cornerstone of Microsoft's new .Net strategy, announced last month. Besides making software available over the Web as a service, the .Net strategy aims to connect all computing devices, from desktop PCs to cell phones, and tie them to the Internet.