Microsoft Updates Commerce Server With .NET Tools

Three months after a beta preview, Microsoft releases a new version of its Commerce Server that enables developers to build e-commerce applications using ASP.NET and the Microsoft .NET Framework.
After releasing the beta in January, Microsoft Corp. has unveiled the latest version of Commerce Server 2002.

The company is busy reinventing its line of .NET Enterprise Server software as part of its Web services strategy, and Commerce Server 2002 is the first step in that process.

The main thrust of the software, which updates Commerce Server 2000, is its tight integration with the Visual Studio .NET suite of development tools, giving developers the ability to build e-commerce applications using ASP.NET and the Microsoft .NET Framework. It features a Developer Portal, which includes a project creation wizard for creating Commerce Server projects from the Visual Studio .NET environment, and schema designers to create profiling and catalog systems hosted in the Visual Studio . NET environment. Additional .NET-based features include:

  • Commerce Server Application Runtime -- enables the configuration of .NET-based Commerce Server applications to run within ASP.NET
  • Commerce Server Base Class Library -- a collection of native classes, interfaces and value types that utilize the .NET Framework programming model, the library provides access to all run-time services and functionality in Commerce Server
  • Common language runtime layer -- makes it easier for developers to migrate from classic ASP applications to ASP.NET applications using COM interoperability features of the .NET Application Framework.

The software offers other new features as well, including multilanguage and multiple currency support, as well as support for multinational shipping methods, multilingual product discounts and advertising. Additionally, a new virtual catalog feature makes it possible to create complex custom catalogs that organize products from multiple catalogs on a single computer running Microsoft SQL Server and support complex custom pricing.

"Commerce Server 2002's integration with Visual Studio .NET allowed us to jump-start the creation of .NET-based Commerce Server applications right from within the Visual Studio .NET environment," said Margo Weeks, vice president of RadioShack Canada, and early adopter customer which built its multilingual Web site with the software. "It was this feature that our developers and business managers found to be the most compelling, because it decreased the overall cost of the solution while accelerating the return on investment."

The company has also added new profiling features and said it has improved profile schema management. The software also allows for integration with Microsoft's .NET Passport authentication service and .NET Alerts.

To take advantage of the new profiling possibilities, Microsoft said it also improved the discount engine, making it easier to offer targeted promotional prices to customers. New features include the ability to apply multiple discounts to a single line item or to a single order, to apply item-level and order-level discounts to an order simultaneously, or to apply percentage-off discounts and dollar-off discounts to an item or to an order simultaneously. The engine can also automatically determine the order in which percentage-off and dollar-off discounts are applied, and spread an order-level discount across all items on an order.

Finally, Microsoft said it has improved the software's analytics, providing Web usage, campaign and product sales analysis with room to create advanced analytics for B2C, B2B and CRM applications. It has added "grouped reports" to provide automated reporting for hosted ads and sites.

The software is available in both Enterprise and Standard editions. The Enterprise Edition is priced at $19,999 per CPU, with unlimited CPU capabilities. It is certified for Windows Datacenter. The Standard Edition, aimed at medium-sized organizations, is priced at $9,999 per CPU with a limit of two CPUs.

This story was first published on InternetNews, an site.

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