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Microsoft pens e-commerce deal

The software giant will make its Plus Digital Media Edition available for download through 200 online retailers.

Microsoft plans to expand its e-commerce efforts and will offer downloads of its media software through more than 200 retailers.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker on Tuesday announced details of a new relationship with e-commerce services provider Digital River. Under the arrangement Microsoft Plus Digital Media Edition package will be made available for download at scores of Web sites. The media software will be marketed in a handful of top U.S. retail chains, including BestBuy, CompUSA, OfficeMax and Staples.

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Plus Digital Media Edition is a set of tools meant to enhance photo, music and movie applications working with Microsoft's Windows XP operating system.

Microsoft has been selling downloads of Plus Digital Media Edition from its Web site since last year through a partnership with License Technologies Group, an e-commerce management specialist. For the most part, the company still relies on traditional brick-and-mortar retail and manufacturer distribution channels to get its products into customers' hands. Microsoft representatives said the Digital River pact will help Redmond develop future strategies for software distribution.

Several of the retail partners have already begun selling the media package through their sites, including CompUSA and OfficeMax, which both have the product listed for $19.95, the same price Microsoft charges at its own Download Center.

The software giant has been expanding its download sales capabilities on several fronts of late. The company, for instance, recently signed a deal with CinemaNow to offer movie and TV show downloads through its MSN portal site. Microsoft is also expected to launch its own online digital music store later this week, putting the software giant in direct competition with Apple Computer and its popular iTunes service.