REDMOND, Wash., April 16, 2001 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the immediate availability of the Microsoft® bCentral™ Commerce Manager Add-in for the Microsoft FrontPage® Web development tool. The add-in provides a simple way for millions of users of FrontPage to add powerful e-commerce functionality to their FrontPage 2000-based, or soon, FrontPage version 2002-based Web sites and to host those sites at any Web site hosting provider they choose.
The Commerce Manager Add-in includes templates for an online product catalog, product category pages and product detail pages, along with order management, shopping cart and order-processing features including optional credit-card processing. The add-in brings the benefits of Microsoft’s software-as-service strategy to millions of current and potential users of FrontPage.
“The new bCentral Commerce Manager Add-in for FrontPage enables companies to get started with e-commerce quickly,”
said Joseph Krawczak, director of product management for Office at Microsoft.
“Customers want to extend their FrontPage Web sites with an easy, secure and inexpensive way to sell products on their sites. We’re happy to be responding with the software and service they need to make this happen. We’re also delighted that important third-party software vendors will be creating bCentral Commerce Manager-compatible services so their customers can tap into the service as well.”
The Benefits of Microsoft’s Software-as-Service Vision
“This new add-in is one step toward Microsoft’s software-as-service vision, providing millions of users of FrontPage with the ability to take advantage of easy e-commerce capabilities in bCentral Commerce Manager,”
said Satya Nadella, vice president of bCentral at Microsoft.
“Now, small and midsized companies can start selling on the Web with just a few clicks of the mouse.”
Adding the ability to sell products on a FrontPage-based Web site is easy with the bCentral Commerce Manager service and the bCentral Commerce Manager Add-in. Merchants subscribe to the bCentral Commerce Manager service, enter the list of products to sell into a simple Web-based form, and run a wizard that creates templates for product pages, category pages and a page that lists all the categories in which they are selling products.
The merchant then uses FrontPage 2000 or 2002 to customize the templates with the merchant’s own logos and themes, and runs the wizard to produce the product and category pages, complete with shopping cart functionality and
For example, Creative-Web-Sites.com, a Web site design firm that specializes in developing Web sites with FrontPage, was faced with the challenge of selecting an e-commerce solution for the Elite Bicycle Web site ( http://www.elitebicycles.com/ ).
“After investigating various e-commerce solutions, we found that Commerce Manager provides us with the best ready feature set: batch product uploads, on-line Seller Console for store management, sales reports, even inventory tracking,”
said Victor Wahby of Creative-Web-Sites.com.
“The power and simplicity of the bCentral Commerce Manager Add-in and its tight integration with FrontPage were keys to our decision to use it for Elite Bicycle.”
E-commerce sites created with this add-in are protected by industry-standard SSL technology, encryption codes and a firewall-protected backend database at Microsoft. The add-in also uses the industry-standard XML language to communicate between the FrontPage-based Web site and bCentral Commerce Manager.
The bCentral Commerce Manager service also includes a subscription option that allows users to
“push” their product lists to participating auction sites and marketplaces, including MSN® Marketplace, MSN Auctions and, in the near future, eBay.
A software developer kit (SDK) for the bCentral Commerce Manager service will be available soon, so third-party e-commerce vendors such as Boomerang Software Inc., ComCity Corp, LaGarde Software Inc., PDG Software Inc. and others will be able to offer bCentral Commerce Manager
capabilities in their products and offer customers an upgrade path for additional functionality.
Developers Support Commerce Manager Add-in
The add-in is of interest not only to people looking to start e-commerce sites, but also to Internet service providers and software developers. Although the product databases and some services are hosted on bCentral, the e-commerce-enabled FrontPage Web sites themselves can be hosted anywhere, so ISPs can offer them as a new service to their subscribers. And because Microsoft will be offering an SDK for the add-in, independent software developers can easily create new features, products and services that offer additional value to customers.
“The Commerce Manager Add-in for Microsoft FrontPage will be an effective solution to further enhance our customers’ storefront presence,”
said David Snyder, president of PDG Software.
“Integration of PDG Shopping Cart with the Commerce Manager service will make it easy for our customers to generate additional interest in the products they promote and sell on their FrontPage-based Web site.”
Pricing, Availability and Requirements
The bCentral Commerce Manager Add-in for FrontPage is now available for download from Microsoft. Users of FrontPage need to have a subscription to bCentral Commerce Manager, available for $12.95 per month or $99.95 per year.
Microsoft also announced today that it is offering a free, three-month subscription to bCentral Commerce Manager for a limited time as part of the launch of the Commerce Manager Add-in for FrontPage. Users who wish to expand on the capabilities of the add-in can upgrade to the full version of bCentral Commerce Manager.
To take advantage of the limited-time, three-month-free subscription from bCentral, or to download the add-in and other information, users can visit the primary resource for Commerce Manager Add-in information: http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/commercemanager.htm .
Computer users worldwide can obtain information about Microsoft FrontPage at http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/ . Information about other Microsoft products can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/ .
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