Microsoft Tests Commerce Server Upgrade



The beta software is coming fast and furious from Microsoft as it gets set to refresh its enterprise server line over the next six months. The software vendor today began testing its Commerce Server 2000 product, scheduled for release this fall.

The new E-commerce server, aimed at companies running online shopping and business-to-business Web sites, is the replacement for Site Server Commerce Edition version 3. It is a sorely needed upgrade, according to customers, who've had to write lots of custom code to make marketing campaign management and other features perform up to snuff. "We've brought the campaign capabilities a lot further," says Microsoft lead product manager Rebekkah Kumar. The software lets companies manage online product catalogs, personalize promotions for customers, and analyze sales data.

Microsoft has improved the product's targeting capabilities, so when companies discount products on their site, the software shows customers the new price in their shopping carts, Kumar says. Previously, IT managers had to write that functionality themselves. Other new features in Commerce Server 2000--which employs Microsoft's SQL Server as its database--include a management system for product catalogs stored in SQL Server, the ability to include contract pricing for customers, and a mechanism for exchanging portions of catalogs with suppliers.

A new user profile system stores names, passwords, and security permissions, and a data-mining engine can pull data from various systems. Enhanced analytical tools go beyond clickstream data analysis to include analysis of transactions, product information, discounts, and log file information.

Commerce Server 2000 will carry a list price of $8,499 per CPU, an increase compared with Site Server Commerce Edition's price tag of about $6,500 per server and $50 per client access license, according to Kumar. In addition to volume discounts, Microsoft plans to continue selling Commerce Server and SQL Server in a discounted bundle.

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