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Tech Industry

Microsoft launches second retail site

With the launch of the online Microsoft Store, Windows Marketplace will transform from e-commerce site to one that refers customers to other Microsoft sites.

Update at 2:17 p.m. PST, with comments from Microsoft on fate of Windows Marketplace.

Microsoft is doubling down on retail, with the launch of a second online store at the start of this year's especially critical holiday shopping season.

The Microsoft Store, which opened for business Thursday, is designed to carry the largest and most up-to-date selection of the software giant's product lines, such as Office, Windows, Xbox, and Zune.

The one-stop shop will carry Microsoft hardware too.

Microsoft currently operates its Windows Marketplace e-commerce site, which it began testing in 2004.

There are many similarities between the two sites, but with the launch of Microsoft Store, that will change.

"With the launch of the Microsoft Store, Windows Marketplace will shut down as an e-commerce site. Marketplace will transition from an e-commerce and referral site to a Web page that will refer customers to sites such as Microsoft Store, Windows Vista Compatibility Center, and other appropriate destinations," a Microsoft spokesman stated.

Meanwhile, according to a Microsoft team blog, the Microsoft Store is also accessible to folks in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Korea. Plans are in the works to add Japan, France, Spain, and the Netherlands in the near future, as well as other countries.

Microsoft is launching its new site at a time when retailers are facing a major downturn as concerns over a recession weigh on the minds and wallets of consumers.

Online retailer issued a cautious note regarding holiday sales when it reported its third-quarter financial results last month, while eBay lowered its fourth-quarter forecast.

As for this current climate, two sites could have possibly been better than one.