Microsoft Eases Computer Resellers’ Entry Into Electronic Commerce

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 24, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that more than 20 leading computer resellers and distributors – including CompUSA Inc., Computer Discount Warehouse, Software Spectrum Inc. and Tech Data Corp. – have chosen the Microsoft® BackOffice® family of products to build, operate and support their electronic commerce Web sites. According to International Data Corp., software retailed on the Internet had a value of $250 million in 1996. By 2000, that figure is expected to rise to $4.6 billion.

“Microsoft remains firmly committed to supporting its channel partners,”
said Steve Schiro, vice president, end user customer unit at Microsoft.
“Electronic commerce is becoming a vital component of the marketplace, and we want to help our channel partners lead the way. Microsoft is providing great commerce products and technology, and also is working with our channel partners on the construction of their sites with design ideas and business and marketing concepts necessary to create truly superior online shopping experiences.”

In an effort to help other companies – in any industry – take advantage of the Internet as an effective medium for software distribution and sales, Microsoft is creating a prototype site that any company interested in conducting business on the Web will be able to refer to and use. The site will demonstrate many ideas for site design, navigation, electronic merchandising, transactions and other features to create a rich shopping experience for online customers. The site will contain
“how built”
pages to show how these features are implemented, including the actual code. Web developers will be able to use the
“how built”
information to incorporate these features in their own branded pages. The prototype site is scheduled to be available publicly in the next six to eight weeks at ( .

Benefits of Microsoft Technologies for Electronic Commerce

The Microsoft BackOffice family offers comprehensive technologies for Internet commerce that make it easy for resellers to build, deploy, enhance and analyze sophisticated commerce-enabled Web sites. Microsoft commerce technologies include the following:

  • A foundation of server components and tools for electronic commerce based on Microsoft Site Server Enterprise Edition

  • An open payment architecture based on Site Server Enterprise Edition and the Microsoft Wallet

  • Solutions developed in cooperation with Solution Providers and other companies

These commerce technologies and products help resellers accomplish the following:

  • Rapidly build and deploy information-rich, compelling sites at low cost for development and total ownership of the site

  • Evolve and extend sites easily to meet changing requirements and to take advantage of new business opportunities

  • Deliver an interactive, personalized user experience

  • Support secure, flexible payment online

  • Make use of data that exists in current business systems

  • Effectively analyze and manage commerce sites


CompUSA Inc., one of the nation’s leading retailers and resellers of personal computers and related products and services, has been working jointly with Microsoft since fall 1996 on its successful electronic commerce site. CompUSA’s Web site now provides a superior shopping experience by featuring an expanded product selection and enhanced product comparison and information.

Located at ( , the CompUSA site is built on Microsoft Merchant Server, the Windows NT® Server network operating system, Internet Information Server (IIS) and Microsoft SQL Server
6.5. Microsoft Active Server Pages, the Visual InterDev
™Web development system, the Visual Basic® programming system and ActiveX
Controls were used in the development of the site, and the Microsoft Wallet is used for payment functions.

“By using Microsoft Internet technologies and BackOffice products, we are developing an e-commerce site that makes it easier and more exciting to shop,”
said Jim Halpin, president and chief executive officer of Dallas-based CompUSA.
“Our goal is to create a ‘world-class’ Web site that reflects CompUSA’s position as a leader in our industry.”

Computer Discount Warehouse

Computer Discount Warehouse (CDW) is one of the premier direct marketers of name-brand hardware, software and peripherals at discount prices. The company serves small to

medium-sized businesses with its more than 22,000 individual items. As a direct marketing organization, CDW found that, based on responses by customers to its catalogs, electronic commerce was a natural extension to its business operation.

The CDW electronic Web site ( was developed and is operated with Windows NT Server 4.0, Internet Information Server 3.0, Microsoft SQL Server version 6.5, the Microsoft Visual C++® development system, Active Server Pages and ActiveX Controls.

Using Microsoft technology allowed CDW to leverage its existing system while enabling it to offer customers up-to-the minute product information about more than 16,000 items at its Web site, with detailed manufacturer’s specifications for more than 5,500 items, and the ability to order all 16,000 products online. In addition, the use of ActiveX Controls enables CDW to

enhance the users’ experience by providing them with an interface with which they are already familiar.

“With Microsoft technologies, we’re not only providing our customers with a very extensive range of products they can order online, but also making interacting with the site less complicated,”
said Greg Zeman, president, CDW.
“For example, searching for accessories at the CDW Web site is as easy and familiar as using Windows® 95.”

Software Spectrum

Using Microsoft Commerce Server, Microsoft Internet Information Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Visual InterDev and Microsoft Visual Basic, a Software Spectrum team developed an information-rich electronic Web site in less than six months. The Software Spectrum Web site is designed to provide information on products and technology services to the company’s large and medium-sized customers. Software Spectrum is testing customer-specific online catalogs in which product listings, prices, order status and other information are tailored for a specific customer’s licensing agreement. These unique catalogs, developed to provide true business-to-business electronic commerce capabilities, are being beta tested by large customers.

Software Spectrum expects its customers to realize numerous benefits from its Web site, including reduced operational cost for software management and easier access to timely information.

“We were looking for a suite of products to extend our existing infrastructure and tie into legacy systems,”
said Roger King, vice president of sales and marketing at Software Spectrum.

Microsoft products have allowed us to extend our back-end systems to the Web, as well as

provide efficiencies and information for our customers. Because the products work so well together, our development and deployment of the site is moving quickly.

Tech Data Corp.

As a leading supplier of personal computer products to more than 70,000 value-added resellers and retail dealers throughout the world, Tech Data distributes more than 45,000 products from more than 900 manufacturers and publishers. The Tech Data Web site ( allows customers to check shipment status, create product order worksheets, instantly link to Web sites of manufacturers and publishers, access vendor warranty information, check product availability, and download product information.

Tech Data’s reseller customers will soon be able to take advantage of a unique Tech Data application that will link Tech Data’s inventory and order processing with resellers’ own sites. This application, enabled by Microsoft products, will allow resellers to integrate Tech Data’s extensive product catalog and inventory supplies within resellers’ own product catalogs, pricing structures and unique Web identities. When end users order products from their favorite reseller site, the order will be processed and fulfilled
via Tech Data technology without end users’ being aware of the connection between the reseller’s site and Tech Data’s.

The implementation of the new application relies on Microsoft BackOffice products. Tech Data uses Internet Information Server and Active Server Pages (ASP) technology to produce the dynamic catalog with the reseller’s information. In addition, Microsoft SQL Server is used as the database server, and Windows NT serves as the operating system for all the BackOffice components.

“Microsoft technology has been instrumental in the development of our electronic commerce solutions,”
said Tim Curran, Tech Data’s senior vice president of sales.

The use of

Microsoft products will ultimately give our customers greater flexibility to integrate these solutions with their existing in-house applications.

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, Visual InterDev, Visual Basic, ActiveX, Visual C++ and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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.

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