Microsoft woos Web-bound businesses with new software

The software giant announces new software that will allow companies that want to do business online to easily join online marketplaces.

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Microsoft on Monday announced new software that will allow companies that want to do business online to easily join online marketplaces.

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Microsoft announces new B2B initiative
Chris Atkinson, VP of .Net Solutions Group, Microsoft

Online marketplaces are industry-specific communities where companies can buy, sell or auction goods and services. They have become popular because companies can save time and money by purchasing and selling goods and services online.

Microsoft is launching a new service this week on its Web site for small businesses that it says will allow suppliers to easily connect to marketplaces run by Ariba, Commerce One, VerticalNet and Clarus. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant's subscription-based bCentral Web site will manage product catalogs, orders and the processing of payments between small businesses and the marketplaces, said Bill Dunlap, group product manager for Microsoft's e-business products.

For medium-sized and larger companies, Microsoft early next year will create a software package that will allow suppliers to build a computing system in-house that will easily link them with any of the online exchanges, Dunlap said.

The software package will include Microsoft's SQL Server database, software that collects and stores data; Commerce Server, software for building e-commerce sites; and the forthcoming BizTalk Server, software for linking different computing systems to exchange data.

Sitting on top of the three products will be new software called "Supplier Accelerator" that will include adapters to allow suppliers to easily communicate with the four online exchanges, Dunlap said.

Microsoft, which competes against Oracle, IBM and others in the market for e-commerce infrastructure software, also plans to partner with service providers, which will make Microsoft's new software available for rent over the Web.

Similar to the bCentral service for small businesses, the service providers will host Microsoft's software, so midsized and large companies don't have to buy and install the technology themselves.