Using new Net-based software, Microsoft and NetLogistics are hoping to provide a cheaper alternative to expensive electronic data interchange (EDI) networks that let businesses exchange information and bid on the shipment of goods.
Based on a customized version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser and Internet Information Server Web server, the software is called WWShipment and is designed for the freight transportation industry.
NetLogistics will provide shippers and their customers free copies of the WWShipment application and access to the WWShipNet Web site. The site will match shippers and shipping service providers in real time and run applications such as U.S. Customs Service cargo clearance and tracking systems. The site will also include a directory of transportation industry companies, shipping schedules, and rates and regulations.
While the software will be distributed by NetLogistics to a very specific audience, the alliance with NetLogistics is an example of Microsoft's efforts to develop customized versions of its software for vertical markets targeted at specific industries. The company also in February announced an electronic commerce solution called Merchant Server based on its Web server technology and aimed at the retail sales market.
The new site is also the latest in a series of announcements of Web tools and sites aimed at undermining the EDI industry by moving business-to-business contact from proprietary networks to the Web. AT&T for example, earlier this week threw its weight behind Industry.net a start-up run by former Lotus Development co-founder Jim Manzi that acts as a clearinghouse for marketing and distribution information for industrial equipment.
In addition, Netscape Communications and General Electric Information Services formed a joint venture called Actra Business Systems to help businesses make orders and payments, trade catalog information, and exchange purchasing and supply forms via corporate intranets and the Internet.
Net Logistics is a Solution Provider and development firm for the transportation industry.