Microsoft to put online store on Start menu

Microsoft is working on a new shopping Web site for software, hardware and peripherals that it plans to advertise in the Windows XP Start Menu and the Internet Explorer Web browser.

Called Windows Marketplace, the website is slated to go live for US Windows users by year's end, according to Microsoft.

The Windows Marketplace will be a way for Microsoft partners to peddle its wares to the millions of Windows users, the company said in a statement.

Providers that are expected to sell their products through the store include Dell, HP, Buy.com and Best Buy Company, according to Microsoft.

Products that had gained a Designed for Windows logo will be easier to find on the Web store through a special search filter, the software maker said.

Aside from advertising the online store in Windows, Microsoft plans to link to the site from its online properties. The link in Internet Explorer will be made through Windows XP Service Pack 2, which is expected out in the coming weeks. Also, the Start Menu link that currently points to the Windows Catalog will likely redirect to the Windows Marketplace in the future, a Microsoft spokesman said.

Windows Marketplace was a US-only initiative for now, however plans for international expansion were in the works, the spokesperson said.

The US version of the Windows Marketplace will be maintained by online publishing company CNet, which will provide product and pricing information for more than 100,000 products.

Software downloads will be offered through CNet's Download.com website, according to Microsoft.

Vendors who currently have a merchant relationship with CNet will be automatically included on the Windows Marketplace, as will products with that have been granted the designed for Windows logo, Microsoft said.

Details on the relationship between Microsoft and CNet were not released.

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