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AT&T Web store opens for downloads

The telecommunications giant tests the waters of selling software online by launching a six-month trial Web site that lists more than 40,000 products.

AT&T announced on Wednesday the opening of an online store for software downloads.

The new store features more than 40,000 software titles, including downloadable products such as H&R Block's TaxCut, McAfee's VirusScan and Symantec's Norton AntiVirus.

"Thirty-nine million consumers in the U.S. have a high-speed internet connection, and they crave the immediate access to utilities, graphics packages and system enhancements that digital software delivers with a single mouse click," John Polumbo, president of AT&T Consumer, said in a statement.

The Web site is accessible from the company's home page, to which AT&T says gets about nine million visitors every month. The online store has been launched on a six-month trial basis, according to the Bedminster, N.J.-based tech giant.

Software is among the most popular product categories for online buyers. Consumers rang up $1.16 billion in sales of digitally delivered software last year, according to IDC research data quoted in an AT&T statement. This figure is expected to reach about $3.46 billion by 2005, the statement added.

AT&T said it has hired e-commerce outsourcing company Digital River to build and host its online software store. Digital River, based in Eden Prarie, Minn., will supply the digital software library and handle tasks such as order management and fraud prevention.