Microsoft Rolls Out Commerce Server 2006 Beta

In a move to compete on the e-commerce development front, Microsoft on Monday announced plans to deliver the beta version of Microsoft Commerce Server 2006.

Microsoft Commerce Server is a .NET-based e-commerce solution designed to simplify the creation of full-featured Web sites. The final commercial product is scheduled to be released in July 2006.

“Commerce Server 2006 enables new and existing customers to use the latest Microsoft technologies and thereby enjoy all the benefits of the latest generation of the Microsoft application platform,” said Steven Martin, director of the Connected Systems Division at Microsoft.

Tight Integration

With the release of Commerce Server 2006, customers will be able to link their e-commerce solutions to their existing line-of-business applications and trading partners. This can be accomplished through integration with Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006 and its portfolio of adapters, such as thosefrom SAP and Oracle.

Commerce Server 2006 will also jump-start e-commerce deployments via a new production-ready starter site, Microsoft said, and help customers build e-commerce solutions based on Web services and service-oriented architectures through tight integration with the latest Web developmenttechnologies, such as ASP.NET 2.0.

“By providing tighter integration with BizTalk Server 2006, SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005, Commerce Server 2006 enables customers to reduce costs and accelerate revenue growth through automated delivery of online services and products,” Martin said.

New Year, New Capabilities

Although still in beta, Microsoft said Commerce Server 2006 includes significant new capabilities for all levels of e-commerce solutions.

Beyond connectivity through BizTalk Server and new starter site capabilities like catalog browsing, searching, shopping cart, checking out, profile management and personalization, Commerce Server 2006 offers multilingual and multicurrency support to enable customers to create a global presence.

New tools such as Customer and Order Manager, Catalog Manager, Marketing Manager, and Reports and Analytics are designed to help business users directly interact with their e-commerce sites.

Customers can also customize and expand reports with full life-cycle management using Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services and can view business data with deep insight using Commerce Server 2006’s powerful business intelligence functions.

Commerce Server 2006 offers performance and scalability enhancements such as native 32- and 64-bit support, integrated staging functionality, and support for server clustering allow customers to build robust, enterprise-level solutions.

Rolling Their Own

Despite the various new features and functions in Commerce Server 2006, and despite the fact that Microsoft dominates much of the software market, analysts said this .NET-based solution may not make a big splash in the market.

While there are competitive products, one of Microsoft’s main competitors in this space is the “roll your own” market, according to Directions on Microsoft Analyst Chris Alligero.

The question, he said, is whether or not Commerce Server 2006 offers enough value as a packaged product to make it attractive enough for companies to buy it and integrated it as opposed to writing these functionality’s in-house.

“We are starting to see more and more commerce type external faces on ERP applications, like SAP products and in the mid-market products that come from Microsoft Business Solutions, have e-commerce capabilities built into those them,” Alligero told TechNewsWorld. “The adoption of Commerce Server 2006 is a matter of perceived value.”

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