In shift, Microsoft sells software online
AFP - Saturday, November 15
WASHINGTON (AFP) - - Microsoft, which has made billions of dollars selling packaged software, has opened its first online store in the United States offering its ubiquitous programs for downloading.
In a possible death knell for the practice of selling software on computer discs which buyers install on their machines, the Redmond, Washington-based software giant has opened a Microsoft Store on the Internet.
The online store, which also offers hardware such as Xbox 360 consoles and Zune MP3 music players, launched on Thursday with no more fanfare than an announcement in a blog posting by a senior program manager, Trevin Chow.
Noting that Microsoft already operates online stores in Britain, Germany and South Korea, Chow said: "With this launch, our customers in the US are able to buy first-party software and hardware directly from Microsoft offered in a comprehensive online catalog.
"In addition to shipping fully packaged products to your doorstep, we offer the additional advantage by making available many Microsoft products to buy and download," Chow said.
"You pay for an (EDS, Electronic Software Distribution) product just like you would for one that would be physically shipped to you," he added.
"The big difference is that after your payment is confirmed, you can immediately download the product to your computer and install it right away."
Microsoft Store offers the full gamut of Microsoft products, from Windows Vista to Microsoft Office. It also offers Xbox 360 games but for shipping on DVD, not for download at the moment.
Microsoft's fortune has been built on creating and selling packaged software such as its Windows operating systems that people install on their machines or come pre-installed on computers.
But the company has been coming under increasing pressure from firms such as arch-rival Google which have rolled out free Web-based applications that compete with text, spreadsheet, calendar and other software from Microsoft.
Microsoft also announced recently that it will release on online version of Office, essentially taking the software into the "computing cloud" as a service available on the Internet.
Web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote programs will be available online at Office Live by subscription or licensing deals, according to Microsoft.
Last month, Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie unveiled a platform known as Azure for offering programs as hosted services on the Internet.
Faster Internet networks and more powerful computing devices have given birth to cloud computing, a trend in which programs are hosted online as services with software maintained on machines operated by technology companies.
Microsoft originally responded to the trend with a "software plus services" strategy that combined its original tactic of selling packaged programs while providing cloud-based features and support.
The Azure platform lets developers build online services and websites to operate on machines updated, maintained and protected by Microsoft.
"Windows Azure is not software you run on your own servers, but rather it is a service running on a vast number of machines housed in Microsoft's own data centers, first in the US and then worldwide," Ozzie said.
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A man walks past the logo of software company Microsoft in March 2008 at the CeBIT trade fair in Hanover. Microsoft, which has made billions of dollars selling packaged software, has opened its first online store in the United States offering its ubiquitous programs for downloading.
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