October 8, 2003, 12:00 AM

Amazon, Microsoft push new era in web-services-based commerce

In what some experts are saying is a major development in the way consumers will access the web, Amazon and Microsoft have co-developed a way to easily link from a Microsoft Office application to a web site buy page.

In what some experts are saying is a major development in the way consumers will access the web, Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have co-developed a way to easily link from a Microsoft Office application, such as a Microsoft Word document, to an Amazon buy page. “For Amazon, this is a real coup,” says Kanth Gopalpur, president of Monsoon Retail LLC, a web-services development firm for retailers. “It’s now moving beyond just getting consumers to come directly to its web site to getting shoppers linking from business documents and other applications.”

Amazon and Microsoft this week announced a joint development project that will embed the latest version of the Microsoft Office suite of applications, including word processing and spreadsheets, with Amazon’s web services technology, enabling individual users to easily code words in Microsoft documents to link them directly to Amazon.com. The service, called Amazon.com Research Services for Microsoft Office System, will be available for download later this fall at Office.Microsoft.com/marketplace.

Gopalpur, whose firm already uses Amazon web services technology to link small retailers to Amazon.com for selling products, says the new Amazon-Microsoft service will make it possible, for example, to quickly hyperlink the title of a book in a press release or in an e-mail message directly to an Amazon page where a consumer can get more information about the book and purchase it.

Microsoft has provided a similar ability to quickly hyperlink web site addresses and e-mail addresses typed into Word documents, but this will be the first time that any word could be quickly hyperlinked without extensive coding.

A spokesman for Amazon says the project with Microsoft is just one of many under development by developers working with Amazon’s web services platform. “More than 35,000 developers have downloaded our web services kit to develop new ways of linking to Amazon,” he says.

Gopalpur says Amazon is taking a bold move to open up its technology to others, but that it should pay off in the long term by generating increased traffic to Amazon without marketing expenditures.

Web services technology uses Internet protocol standards, including XML, that connect disparate applications and provide for automated push and pull of data between applications.

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