At the time of this writing in early 2002, Microsoft Commerce Server 2000 has been on the market for over a year, providing an answer to the question of how to quickly build an enterprise-level retail Web site that is functional, convenient, and smart. The follow-up product, Microsoft Commerce Server 2002, due to be released about the time that this book is scheduled to reach store shelves, extends the functionality provided by the earlier version, brings Commerce Server into the world of .NET, and includes even more extensive use of XML. This chapter explains how Commerce Server can be used to satisfy the requirements for, and expectations of retail Web sites from the various perspectives identified in the previous section.
Commerce Server plays the central role in Microsoft's solution for retail Web site creation. Microsoft Windows 2000 and Microsoft SQL Server 2000, as the operating system and database platforms, play important supporting roles respectively, upon which Commerce Server runs.
When using Commerce Server to build a retail Web site, and after you have installed Commerce Server and the associated software upon which it depends, you have several alternatives for how to begin: