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Microsoft preps Marketplace

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Toronto Microsoft is to build an online marketplace to help customers find approved vendors of hardware and software.

When it first launches, Windows Marketplace will concentrate on packaged hardware and software, and downloadable software. The site will initially be limited to the US, expanding to other countries later on. In due course, customers will be able to access the portal direct from the Start button on their PC. This may provide food for thought for competition regulators and their ilk.

The site, built in collaboration with CNET Networks, will feature detailed, classified lists of Microsoft-approved products. The site will not take orders, but provide links through to other merchants and service providers.

Certified providers can register with the market for a nominal processing fee.

“It should be the best thing we have done for our partners in years,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, addressing Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto on Tuesday.

Though a straightforward concept, it is a relatively complicated task to make such a marketplace work well, Ballmer admitted. “We have tried this many, many times, as have lots of other people,” he said.

“We are on version one now, it could be version two or version three before we are where we want to be.” ®

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