Microsoft has beefed up its bCentral software for small businesses with a range of services aimed at helping them participate in e-marketplaces.
Called Ebusiness Acceleration, the range is based on Microsoft's .Net Enterprise Servers and includes bCentral Commerce Manager, Supplier Accelerator, BizTalk Server 2000 and SQL Server 2000.
BCentral Commerce Manager helps businesses maintain catalogues, orders and payment processes, while Supplier Accelerator enables Windows-based companies to link their electronic catalogues and transaction data to online trading software from CommerceOne, VerticalNet, Ariba and Clarus.
Satya Nadella, vice-president of Microsoft bCentral, said the ability to sell through these marketplaces has been limited for small companies. "bCentral Commerce Manager provides one-stop access to large marketplaces, and helps small businesses build their catalogues, sell products, manage sales and process orders," he said.
Microsoft also announced plans to create a vendor advisory committee to help the development of Commerce Server and BizTalk. Partners include Andersen Consulting, Compaq, KPMG and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.
Steve Garone, an analyst at researcher IDC, said: "By providing businesses with a platform approach that is agnostic as it relates to e-marketplaces, Microsoft is empowering suppliers of all sizes to choose where they market their goods."
Microsoft is expected to launch its complete bCentral range to small businesses in the UK at the beginning of next year.
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