News Shorts

Light Traffic at the E-Mall

The Multi-State E-Mall, the prototype multiple-state electronic procurement platform, has been open for business at emall.isa.us since October, but officials have recorded only about 20 transactions from government buyers. "Our plan is to ramp up purchasing volume, and ramp it up and ramp it up again," said Gary Lambert, deputy purchasing director for Massachusetts.

Technical issues surrounding Open Buying on the Internet and other standards may be part of the reason that E-Mall sales appear lackluster.

Lambert also hammered home the point that the electronic buying co-op still is in a prototype stage. "I always like to remind folks that this is a pilot project, and for those of you who didn't hear me this time, I'll repeat myself: 'This is a pilot project,' " Lambert said.

About 15 companies also are participating, including Dell Computer Corp., which will offer its PowerEdge server products on the E-Mall site at the same prices offered on its master contract with Massachusetts.

- Jennifer Jones

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Microsoft Pulls Together State/Local Sales Crew

Microsoft Corp. recently finished assembling its sales and marketing team for the state and local market. The team will continue the company's strategy of forging partner-

ships with independent software vendors to break into key segments of the market, such as public safety, human services and finance.

"We really decided that the time was right to pursue the state and local market about two years ago, but we've had a tough time getting the right talent," according to Connie Dean, one of two industry marketing managers tapped to spearhead state and local sales. "We wanted this to be the right team of people, but ideally we would have been here a year and a half ago."

The team will include the efforts of the other industry marketing manager, Ken Reeves, who has been pursuing justice and public safety deals for Microsoft. Dean will work human services, finance and general revenue accounts. Other team members include Debbie Aarvig, business development manager, and Mauro Regio, technical evangelist.

Microsoft also has dedicated a World Wide Web site to its state and local work (www.microsoft.com/industry/government).

The new team will promote partnerships between Microsoft and independent software vendors to spread the company's presence across as many local markets as possible.

- Jennifer Jones

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Small Tweaks Boost Internet Explorer 5.0

Microsoft Corp.'s Version 5.0 of Internet Explorer boasts no new blockbuster features, but the company has made several lesser enhancements that add up to a smoother ride on the World Wide Web for end users and fewer headaches for state and local government systems administrators.

IE5 is more stable, so users will experience fewer crashes and lockups. And, thanks in large part to new caching techniques, IE5 seems to load pages faster and stores the layout of a Web site as well as the content, while IE4 did not.

For a complete review of IE5-including information on IE5's ability to walk users through different search engines, a look at the negative side to IE5's inclusion of so many search engines and a list of minor product tweaks-turn your browser to www.civic.com.

- Patrick Marshall

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