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Microsoft Commerce Server in Beta

Feel like building a site to sell your wares?

Microsoft this week issued the first beta of its Commerce Server 2006, unveiling the qualities that will help the software engine drive e-commerce sites to sell products.

Commerce Server 2006 helps customers build e-commerce applications and Web sites based on Web services and service-oriented architectures (SOA) , according to a Microsoft statement.

For businesses looking to sell products over the Web, the Commerce Server ties Web channels to back-end applications from SAP, Siebel, Oracle and trading partners. This is done thanks to careful hooks to Microsoft's BizTalk Server 2006 integration software and its adapters.

For example, business customers with online brands can use the Commerce Server to build sites that, when tied to applications on the back-end of a Web site, facilitate order fulfillment and payment. Customers will be able to place orders and check inventory availability and order status on the Web.

Features of Commerce Server 2006 include new starter site capabilities that give business owners ways to add catalog browsing, searching, shopping cart, checking out, profile management and personalization tools.

The software, which competes with IBM WebSphere Commerce and ATG eCommerce, also includes tools to help business owners manage information for customers, orders, product catalogs, marketing, reports and analytics.

Business owners can also customize reports using Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services and additional business intelligence features packed into Commerce Server 2006.

The server also includes multilingual and multicurrency support to help customers build a global presence.

Microsoft Commerce Server 2006 beta is available on Microsoft Connect.

The Redmond, Wash., company expects to release the finished version of Commerce Server 2006 in July, with pricing and licensing details to be announced later.