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Commerce One, Microsoft in B2B Initiative

Microsoft Corp. continued to make a play online Tuesday for the B2B software market.

This time the Redmond, Wash. company will tap a hesitant supplier base -- one that is wary to hazard possible discounted deals online -- through a strategic alliance with e-commerce company Commerce One Inc.

In the last few months, Microsoft has absorbed criticism for being relatively unsuccessful securing suppliers to buy software across its .Net exchange.

Rather than belabor a strategy that isn't meeting expectations, the company has decided to loan $25 million to Pleasanton, Calif.-based Commerce One to enlist the services of the software company. The company will use the cash to develop an engineering and sales department that is familiar with MS's platform. And it will also sink money into allowing businesses using Microsoft's software to integrate with online exchanges under its tutelage.

In joint remarks at Commerce One's eLink user conference in New Orleans, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and the CEO of Commerce One, Mark Hoffman, said new software services would include a Commerce One MarketSite Gateway for BizTalk Framework, Commerce One MarketSite Connectivity Kit for Microsoft BizTalk Server and Microsoft Visual Studio, as well as, Microsoft services for supplier enablement.

In a prepared statement, Hoffman said, the combination of Commerce One's e-marketplace services with the XML support of Windows 2000 and Microsoft .NET Enterprise Servers would merit particular importance for independent software vendors and enterprises building and leveraging e-marketplace-based services.

"We believe the Commerce One MarketSite Gateway for BizTalk Framework and the Commerce One MarketSite Connectivity Kit for Microsoft BizTalk Server and Microsoft Visual Studio, integrated with Microsoft solutions are key milestones in putting business commerce on the Web."

A spokesperson for Microsoft said the company was wooing suppliers of all sizes. He was unable to provide the number of suppliers that were expected to be tapped as a result of the strategic alliance with Commerce One.

As a part of the alliance, Microsoft will sell Commerce One's Gateway for Microsoft BizTalk and Commerce One MarketSite connectivity kit for BizTalk.

The connectivity kit allows suppliers to load products into electronic catalogs, and post them onto online exchanges for other manufacturers to browse.

Microsoft will also include the software with BizTalk and as part of its Visual Studio software application development tools, the spokesperson added.



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