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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Internet

Microsoft to sell software on the Net

Selling software on the Internet isn't news anymore, but anything that Microsoft does demands notice.

Software storefronts may soon be obsolete, if Microsoft and America Online have their way.

Microsoft is not directly getting into electronic software distribution. Rather, it is announcing a set of technical specifications today for its reseller chain to offer more Microsoft products on the Net.

Microsoft expects about 20 resellers to sign up for the program. The company has already been active in electronic distribution over the last several months, giving away free software on its Internet site and running a pilot project with several partners, but today's announcement signals its intent to focus its resale chain on electronic sales.

One of Microsoft's pilot partners, Online Interactive, has separately announced the opening of atOnce, the first software store on America Online. Starting today, AOL subscribers can purchase and download over 500 software products in the atOnce store. The company expects to offer a few thousand titles by the end of year. The store is similar to the one Online Interactive already runs on the Microsoft Network.

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