Microsoft has invested $100 million in a little known ecommerce portal supplier to ensure it has a ready made subscriber base for its planned Windows based "megaservices".
Under the terms of the deal, the software giant will provide socalled "megaservices" such as the Passport authentication service to members of Verticalnet's 55 industry specific online trading communities worldwide.
The business to business operator has also agreed to implement Microsoft's software, including Windows 2000 Professional Edition, SQL Server and Microsoft Site Server Commerce Edition, throughout its operation.
But in return, Microsoft will market Verticalnet's services on its MSN and Microsoft.com websites and also pay for 80,000 merchants to build storefronts operating on the Verticalnet network.
Mark Walsh, Verticalnet's president and chief executive, said: "The growth in trading partners Microsoft can bring adds enormous value to our global buyers and suppliers. This new alliance will provide new and flexible ways for companies to buy and sell products on the Internet."
Analysts at Zona Research said in a briefing paper: "Verticalnet clearly can provide an avenue of access between new Microsoft megaservices and all these vertical business to business communities."
They added that Microsoft was keen to promote the adoption of such megaservices as the Passport authentication service, which it is trying to promote to subscribers of its MSN online network.
Verticalnet operates 55 trading portals, which are aimed at such industry sectors as semiconductor manufucturing, communications, food and hospitality. Organisations use the portals to trade either raw goods for product manufacture or products and services that assist in the running of such companies.
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