RealTime IT News

Qwest, Microsoft Offer E-Commerce Tools

Partnering with Microsoft, Qwest Communications International Inc. Wednesday debuted Q.Commerce, a series of e-commerce solutions for businesses interested in entering the market.

Q.Commerce-Retail is the first offering, designed for traditional retailers to create and maintain online storefronts. Built around Microsoft's Commerce Center offerings, it includes high-speed Internet access, Web hosting and consulting services, hardware, direct merchandising assistance and site promotion. Other suites will follow in the near future, the company said.

"This new service effectively blends Qwest's communications and consulting capabilities with Microsoft's leading edge Windows NT-based Site Server Commerce Edition software, so companies can leverage the Internet to establish an ongoing relationship with their customers through the Web," said Scott Baxter, president of Qwest Internet Solutions.

The partnership with Microsoft is based on combining Microsoft's Windows NT Server operating system with Qwest's Internet Protocol (IP)-based fiber optic network. In related news, Microsoft plans to unveil a corporate e-commerce strategy revolving around its Windows 2000 operating system, the upgrade to NT.

Its own corporate storefront builder, MSN Marketplace, is set to be released soon as well, which Microsoft said will focus on small businesses. The question remains as to if Microsoft's own entrance into the e-commerce arena will place the current partners as competitors.

This is not the first time the two companies have joined up. In December, Microsoft invested $200 million in Qwest.