Microsoft's online shop, previously code-named NITRO, is open for business in the US. However, don't expect to see an Australian version any time this year.
Simply dubbed Shop (http://shop.microsoft.com), the online store allows US customers to visit the Microsoft site and then buy products from one of four resellers.
Microsoft will localise the store for other countries, starting with Canada. However, even that is not due to be operational before early next year.
Geoff Wright, Microsoft's director of channels, told ARN that an Australian store would not open this year.
"We want to see it working in the US to really understand what the implications are and what amount of revenue it is likely to generate," he said.
"However, our customers are telling us they want to buy through the Web and there has been a tremendous amount of interest from partners."
The big catch for any possible Shop reseller is that they have to build their e-commerce site with Microsoft Site Server "because of the way we pass the business through to the reseller", Wright said.
"What we are telling interested partners is that the best way to prepare for this is to build yourself a compelling Web site using Microsoft Site Server technology."
When customers have selected the products they want to buy and are ready to order they choose a reseller to buy from and their "shopping basket" is transferred to that reseller's Web site for processing. Customers can also buy directly from Microsoft at the estimated retail price, which is generally 10 to 25 per cent higher than the "street price" offered by resellers, Microsoft said.
The four resellers that customers can purchase Microsoft merchandise from are Beyond.com, CDW, CompUSA and Insight. Additional resellers will be added over the next few months.