Microsoft Makes It Simple to Sell on the Web; Release of Merchant Server Expected to Ignite Internet Commerce

SAN JOSE, Calif., Oct. 30, 1996 — For businesses that have found it too daunting or expensive to begin selling on the World Wide Web, Microsoft Corp. today announced Merchant Server 1.0.

Industry analysts and participants say the new software will jump-start the nascent era of Internet commerce. Internet-related companies are offering broad support for Microsoft® Merchant Server, and early customers have already made it the most popular software for selling over the Internet.

Merchant Server is the only software for selling over the Internet that enables companies to establish selling sites with minimal development costs, to help attract and retain customers through a compelling and secure buying experience, and to help generate higher sales through targeted dynamic sales promotions. Merchant Server is a member of the Microsoft BackOffice

“Merchant Server solves some fundamental problems that previously limited the functionality of online stores and made them extremely expensive,”
said Ted Julian, research manager for Internet commerce at International Data Corp.
“For example, the product’s support for payment systems and product promotions represents industry advances that will allow firms to make their online presence a more seamless extension of their existing business.”

“This is the best commerce software we’ve ever seen,”
said Mike Farrace, vice president of publishing and electronic commerce at Tower Records, which is going live with a Merchant Server-based system to sell 150,000 album titles online.
“Other software solutions have lacked something – scalability, transaction support from the banks, open extensibility – or they required knowledge of difficult programming languages. Merchant Server successfully addresses these issues. It’s powerful and expandable, and the facile user interface lets us use the impressive array of Merchant Server tools to sell the way we want to.”

Key Industry Players Support Merchant Server as Complete Selling Solution

Microsoft today also announced support for Merchant Server from key Internet service providers (ISPs) and network carriers, Web site developers, financial institutions and payment processors and software vendors (see separate release). Their support makes Merchant Server the core of a complete, end-to-end solution for selling on the Web.

With Merchant Server and its industry support, business-to-business and business-to-consumer online transactions are within easy, low-cost reach of all potential sellers for the first time. Small sellers can get fully professional sites, running around the clock, without the trouble and expense of maintaining their own servers and systems. Large sellers gain scalability and extensibility to meet any need and any order-processing infrastructure, plus the ability to create dynamic promotions to target new markets and maximize profits.

Key industry support for Merchant Server includes the following:

  • ISPs and network carriers in the new Microsoft Internet Service Provider Program, which gives businesses a low-cost way to sell on the Web without having to manage their own sites

  • Leading financial institutions and payment processors, including American Express, BankAmerica Corp. and Wells Fargo, which are working with Microsoft and VeriFone Inc. to support secure payment processing for Merchant Server sites

  • Leading Web site developers , who are offering site creation services for Merchant Server sites through Microsoft’s expanded Site Builder Network

  • Thirteen major ISVs, including SAP AG, Sterling Commerce Inc. and TAXWARE International Inc., which are offering or planning Merchant Server software extensions that add capabilities for business processes including payment, taxes and EDI

Customers Make Merchant Server the Most Popular Online Selling Solution

More companies have turned to Microsoft Merchant Server than any other software solution for selling on the Internet. More than 40 Merchant Server sites are scheduled to go live within two months, and hundreds of international sites are planned for launch within the next year.

In addition to Tower Records, companies planning Merchant Server-enabled commercial sites include 1-800-FLOWERS, Coles Meyer Ltd., CompUSA, Crabtree & Evelyn Canada, Great Universal Stores, Micro Warehouse Inc., Software Spectrum Inc., Tesco, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and USWeb Worldport. This broad support for Merchant Server follows its successful two-month beta program with more than 300 companies and industry participants worldwide. A directory of some of the best commercial sites on the Web that have turned to Merchant Server is attached and is highlighted on Microsoft’s corporate Web site at .

Key Benefits Enable Lower Costs, More Customers, Higher Sales

“Microsoft is committed to enabling all types of Internet commerce; Merchant Server is the first deliverable in our strategy to provide unprecedented support for doing business on the Web,”
said Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates.
“We are extremely hard-core about reducing the need for custom development, supporting legacy system integration and having secure third-party payment.”

For businesses that want to sell on the Web, Merchant Server presents an end-to-end solution. Highlights include these:

  • Merchant Server minimizes custom development.

    • Businesses can be up and running quickly and simply, without the need for expensive custom development, using one of the included
      “Starter Stores.”
      Merchant Server also is flexible, allowing businesses to tailor their commerce sites to particular needs.

    • Businesses can use their existing order-processing and accounting systems – including SAP AG’s R/3 system – thanks to the unique order processing component API in Merchant Server. This API also gives businesses flexibility to write custom solutions for business processes such as orders, payment and fulfillment.

    • Businesses can use any ODBC-compliant relational database , running on the Windows NT operating system, Apple Macintosh or UNIX systems, thanks to Merchant Server’s database schema independence and support for ODBC. For example, a company that uses Oracle running on UNIX to store product information would not need to modify or port that database, but could simply have Merchant Server connect to it via an ODBC driver.

  • Merchant Server creates compelling customer experiences.

    • Customers can interact with stores that suit their individual wants or tastes. For example, customers could be presented with merchandise or promotions based on their buying history or as a result of a query. Support for technologies such as ActiveX
      , Java
      , Web chat and secure Web browsing allows for inventive, compelling sites that attract customers and provide an exciting shopping experience.

    • Secure payment – one of the most challenging problems for Internet commerce – is handled with Merchant Server’s
      “order-processing pipeline.”
      It provides a complete electronic sales infrastructure, including evaluation software from VeriFone, the market leader in electronic credit-card authorization. Customers will feel safe shopping on Merchant Server-powered sites because of the secure credit-card processing offered through a combination of VeriFone’s vPOS
      and vGATE software products and industry standards including Secure Electronic Transactions (SET).

    • Businesses can build
      “virtual communities of interest.”
      Merchant Server integrates with the upcoming Windows NT-based Microsoft Commercial Internet System, previously code-named
      to build online communities of interest, which in turn create even more compelling consumer experiences, and to build a lasting customer base.

  • Merchant Server allows for promotions-based marketing.

    • Sellers can maximize sales through dynamic promotions based on better information about their customers – considered by many marketers to be key to the future of brand marketing. A Promo Manager quickly creates product and price promotions for individual buyers or groups based on their preferences and history. The Order Tracker analyzes the impact of promotions on revenues, and the Activity Tracker analyzes sales and the impact of promotions on buyer activity.

Pricing and Availability

Merchant Server version 1.0 for Windows NT running on Intel and DEC Alpha AXP processors is scheduled to be available by Dec. 1 through any Microsoft reseller including selected members of the Microsoft Internet Service Provider Program. A free evaluation version is available today from Microsoft’s Web site at (connect-time charges may apply).

Server licenses are available for the full package price (FPP) of $14,995, and administration licenses, required to host a live domain, are available for the FPP of $3,495. Companies that host their own Web sites can develop online selling with Merchant Server for a total licensing price of $18,490. For the next six months, Microsoft is offering administration licenses at the special introductory price of $2,330, one-third off the regular price. Companies that use a hosting service will pay a license fee set by their providers. Microsoft estimates these fees to start at well under $5,000.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, BackOffice, Windows NT and ActiveX are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Java is a trademark of Sun Microsystems Inc.

vPOS is a trademark of VeriFone Inc.

Other product and company names herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

For online product information:

Microsoft Merchant Server Web page:

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

Microsoft Merchant Server Customer References

1-800-FLOWERS, Bill Reihl, (212) 891-0494, (

4-Serv Mall, Tony Vasquez, (810) 649-3700, (

American Diabetes Assoc., Richard Warren, Judds Inc., (540) 465-6623, (

Asia Connect (Planet Asia), Gavin Bong or Chun Jin, 60-3-230-8818, (

Cars@Cost, David Melnick, Melnick Consulting, (818) 593-2219

Coles Meyers Ltd., Richard Tait, 011-61-9829-6202

CompUSA Inc., Carol Elfstrom, (972) 982-4181, (

Crabtree & Evelyn, Mariellen Ward, MediaLinx Interactive Inc., (416) 369-6747, (

Cyoni-The Orange Network, Jerome Watts, CBI, (604) 945-0459, (

Dakin Farms, Melissa Dever, Competitive Computing, (802) 655-0757, (

DataNet, Brent Curtis, Datatek, (615) 377-6029,

David Jones, Judi Hausmann, 612-93-624-966

Empower, Gerry High, (913) 696-5067, (

Fisher Micro, Barry Luther, Ram Consulting, (972) 713-4651,

ForEyes Optical, Juan Silvera, ICN, (800) 353-7111 ext. 205, (

Gateway2000, Bruce Morris, (605) 232-1406, (

Granville Book Company, Jerome Watts, CBI, (604) 945-0459, (

Himalayan Mall, Kenneth Friedman, CorporateMicros, (212) 447-6100, (

Inacom Corp., Ed Rider, (402) 392-4516, (

International Golf Outlet, John Miaso, Digitools, (512) 453-0697,

International Sinatra Society, Dan Lundahl (847) 882-0493, (

Judd’s Inc., Cathy Loranger, (540) 667-3588, (

London Drugs, Debra Hamilton, BC TEL Interactive, (604) 482-2820, (

Memory Express, Barry Luther, Ram Consulting, (972) 713-4651, (

Microsoft Network: The Plaza on MSN, Anne Marshall, (206) 637-9097, (

Micro Warehouse Inc., David Lokes, (203) 899-4485, (

Novastar, Bob Gibson, Intermaxx, (602) 992 3356, (

Omac Computers, Roger Lai, (713) 777-6622, (

PC Connection, Brian Aron, (603) 355-6079

Provenance Co., Kenneth Friedman, Corporate Micros, (212) 447-6100, (

Pureflite Gear, Diane Greer, Greer Consulting, (718) 638-9310, (

Seidler’s Jewelers, Barry Wadman, C-Systems, (508) 371-0557, (

Shoppers Universe, Eva Keogan, The Rowland Company, 0171-436-4060,

Snowboard Gear Direct, Bernd Lutz, Cybermarketing LLC, (303) 673-9374, (

Software Spectrum Inc., Katherin Dockerill, (972) 864-5958, (

Swiss Connection, Christine Kemp, TechKnow Quest, (407) 248-0400, (

Tesco, Paul Arnold, 44-707-325161, (

Tower Records, Sandy Rodrigues, (916) 373-2450, (

Travel Information & Planning Co. (TIPC), Will Kinnear, (312) 258-9200, (

Trinity Zone, Sterling Ledet & Assoc., (404) 325-3338, (

True Tunes, Richard Warren, Judds Inc., (540) 465-6623, (

UCLA, Steve San Marchi, (310) 794-8833, (

USWeb Worldport, Albert Lopez, (408) 541-0295, (

Virtual Books Co., Jeffrey Benson, The Lande Group, (212) 497-4900, (

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