Microsoft has laid out its Ecommerce strategy and introduced products to back it up.
The initiative includes Site Server Enterprise Edition, which is version 2.0 of the Commerce Server that Microsoft acquired from E-Shop; the Microsoft Wallet, which is a container for third-party payment modules; and smartcards.
Peter Bell, Microsoft's Back Office product manager, said: "So far, it's been difficult to assemble the different tools needed to set up an electronic commerce system. We want to increase the business value of web technology and take some of the expense and time out of doing it manually. The aim is to make Ecommerce a line of business application that is integrated across the enterprise with such mission-critical packages as SAP's R/3."
Site Server is part of the Back Office product family. The standard version is aimed primarily at intranet users and includes the Visual Interdev web site development toolkit, Interse's Usage Analyst which checks where a user has been on a site and Netcarta's Webmapper, which has been renamed Site Analyst.
Administrators can use Site Analyst to check out which hypertext links on their sites connect to what and whether they are working.
The Enterprise Edition of the product also includes an Order Processing Pipeline to undertake the workflow tasks associated with order processing, and its related application programming interface (API) so that third parties can integrate their enterprise resource planning and accountancy applications with the system.
Future versions of Site Server will also include a Business Document Pipeline (BDP) or workflow system for electronic data interchange (EDI) over several transport mechanisms, including the Internet. A range of EDI and Ecommerce software vendors are currently working on integrating their offerings with BDP.
Site Server integrates with the client component, the Microsoft Wallet, which manages payment methods and the addresses needed to make an order.
It is a container to hold third party wallet payment modules, which will be based on the Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) specification and developed by financial institutions such as banks and credit card companies.
The so-called Wallet will be integrated with version 4.0 of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser and the next version of Windows 95, codenamed Memphis.
Microsoft's is also working on a specification for OEMs wanting to interface smartcard readers and cards with PCs as well as developing device-independent APIs, for software vendors to write their smartcard applications to.
Smartcard support is being included in the NetPC, Windows NT version 5.0, codenamed Cairo, Memphis and PC98 design specifications.
Public-key security will also be mapped onto the NT security model, which means, in future, users will be able to use smartcards to gain access to the corporate network and their machines.
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