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MS cuts out channel to sell direct

US customers can buy MS product online, bypassing resellers

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Microsoft is usurping the channel through its re-launched Web site which sells products direct to customers. The software giant is selling its own software and hardware direct through its online store shop.microsoft.com. The Web site was originally launched in March, when customers could choose to buy through four resellers -– CompUSA, Insight, CDW and Beyond.com –- or through Microsoft. It was relauched in August, minus the resellers. Customers now using the service have to buy direct. The Web site may represent a small slice of the company's sales, and only service customers in the US at present, but it shows a marked change in channel policy. A representative of Microsoft UK today said there were currently no plans to bring the service to Europe. And Microsoft claimed the direct selling was only a temporary move, PC World News reported. "This is not a formal long-term decision," claimed Ken Schneider, Microsoft director of customer marketing. But no date was given for when resellers would be re-installed. It is unclear if an outside distribution company is being used for shipping the products. A $5 shipping charge per order guarantees second-day delivery, and $12.50 overnight delivery. Schneider was giving out confusing messages about the site; he maintained that sells a "mixture of products you can't get in the channel". Yet The Register found Office 2000 and Windows 98 for sale, as well as hardware such as Microsoft keyboards and mice, which we are reliably informed can indeed be purchased through resellers. ®

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