Microsoft Commerce Server
The Redmond giant's e-commerce offering follows both ATG and IBM's lead with a strong focus on Web 2.0 capabilities. Microsoft Commerce Server 2007 SP2 is the current incarnation of the product, which offers shopping cart management, taxation, personalization, settlement and product visualization capabilities. The company has even integrated live MSN functionality into the platform so that businesses can tap into those users.
"With the current service pack, Microsoft has moved more toward a platform than a toolset," Alvarez said. "If you're looking to build something entirely from scratch, you might look to a WebLogic. But if you're looking for something a bit more modular, you should be looking at Microsoft."
With that said, however, the Gartner analyst warned that companies will need to be prepared for a lot more development and customization with Microsoft, as compared to other offerings.
"If you're looking for a lot of capabilities out of the box, it's not there," he said. "It's appropriate for those companies that want to do custom built sites, but if that's not what you're organization is looking to do; it might not be the right one for you."
Walker agreed and characterized the offering as an e-commerce toolkit for large Microsoft-based environments. "Along with this toolkit approach comes flexibility, so some organizations are going to be attracted to that," he added.
The biggest differentiator for the platform will actually be arriving in the company's Mojave update set to launch early 2009. It comes in the form of a Solution Accelerator, which is designed to get a B2C e-commerce deployment up and running quickly.
"Companies now have to manage a multitude of sites, so if you're a retailer, you can buy Microsoft's solution accelerator and low and behold you can get a site up very quickly," Alvarez said.
Despite the touted Web 2.0 offerings, Alvarez warned that organizations looking to take full advantage of the rich Internet and community-based capabilities would need to use additional products from Microsoft. "If you want to add community aspects, it will require SharePoint," he said. "Rich Internet applications will require users to buy SilverLight."