A Microsoft spokeswoman would not confirm that ship date but said beta testing of Microsoft Server has gone "better than expected." She also said electronic commerce announcements will be made during the SiteBuilders developers conference in San Jose, California, at the end of October.
Microsoft has previously said Merchant Server will ship by year's end. Merchant Server is part of Normandy, Microsoft's suite of eight software applications for the Internet and intranets, but will also be sold separately.
Merchant Server, which went into beta testing with 175 customers August 29, includes tools for retailers to create catalogs, set up payment services, process orders, and market merchandise.
In June, Microsoft scrapped internal efforts to write its own merchant software and bought eShop, a small software developer that had been working on retailing software for several years. The eShop code has been ported from its original Unix platform to Windows NT.
In August, Microsoft announced that Merchant Server would include an Internet "cash register" from VeriFone, software that handles credit card and other transactions for the Web merchant.
Merchant Server will work with any Web browser or retailer's database software. Microsoft plans to publish application programming interfaces so that developers of tax software, shipping and handling technology, fulfillment systems, or payment systems, can create software to work with Merchant Server.
Microsoft's merchant software will compete with offerings from Netscape Communications and IBM, as well as IBM's subsidiary Lotus Development. Open Market, and Connect also already offer transaction-processing software for large or high-end Web sites.