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Microsoft pushes software for dot-com crowd

The software giant plans to announce new technology that lets e-commerce firms better analyze data generated during customer transactions in a push to create a new market for its software.

Microsoft is looking for new ways to make its software more attractive to "dot-com" companies.

The software giant today will announce new technology and services that let e-commerce companies better analyze data generated during customer transactions. In doing so, Microsoft hopes to create a new market for its software and give systems integrators and consultants an added reason to sell Microsoft's SQL Server database software and Office 2000 applications suite.

Microsoft plans to offer SQL Server, Office 2000 and new component software--along with consulting services--as part of a new initiative called Business Internet Analytics (BIA), Microsoft product manager Barry Goff said.

The new program will be marketed to Web companies hoping to unlock customer trends hidden in the huge amounts of so-called clickstream data that is generated as customers or potential customers navigate online stores.

Goff said Microsoft will differentiate its product from other analysis tools offered by companies such as IBM, SAS Institute, net.Genesis and Broadbase by tying together its database software and existing data warehousing tools.

Combing data collected online and data warehouse information "is particularly valuable to bricks-and-mortar stores going online," Goff said.

"Using BIA, I can not only understand how people use my Web site, but I can combine that information with a view of what transactions are being generated. I can get even more detailed information by seeing what percentage of online customers also shop at my physical store," he added.

Microsoft is combining its software with new technology from its research arm to deliver BIA, Goff said. And, in keeping with president Steve Ballmer's edict that Microsoft "eat its own dog food," the company is also using the new program to analyze the data generated by Microsoft's own 500 Web servers.

Goff said Microsoft's Web sites receive between 1 billion and 2 billion hits per day, and log more than 35 million unique visitors per month.

Since BIA is being delivered by systems integrators, Goff said those companies will set the pricing for the service, not Microsoft. The cost will be based on a contract though systems integrators, plus software license fees.

Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise Edition costs $4,000 per server, plus approximately $100 per user, Goff said. Office 2000 costs approximately $249 per user for the suite's standard version.