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Microsoft investigated idea of launching Amazon-like e-commerce site, report says

Microsoft Intelligent Car TechnologyMicrosoft recently developed a plan to set up an e-commerce site to take on giants in the space such as Amazon and eBay, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The project has since been scrapped.

Sources told the Journal that the computer company had gone so far as to engage in talks with potential partners, such as retailers and tech companies, with a view to launching the online shopping site “with an array of merchants, as well as a unified shopping cart and broad shipping options.”

The project even had its own codename – Brazil.

In an effort to entice shoppers, Microsoft was reportedly considering subsidizing the price of goods on the site with revenue made through ads on its Bing search engine.

The sources said Microsoft had been looking at ways to integrate its marketplace into its Windows operating system, with a view to working it into other Microsoft products, such as its Xbox gaming platform and Windows phones and tablets, at a later date.

When the Journal contacted Microsoft about Brazil, a spokeswoman confirmed the project had once existed, adding that although it had been shelved, the company remained committed to looking at new ideas for how to create an attractive online shopping experience.

The spokeswoman declined to give a reason for pulling the plug on the initiative, or offer any details about when it was abandoned.

Despite its Windows software still powering the vast majority of the world’s computers, the PC market is in decline, forcing Microsoft in recent years to look beyond its usual business in search of new revenue streams. Last year it entered the hardware sector with its Surface tablets, though up to now they appear to have failed to make any discernible impact in the market. Its abandoned Brazil initiative is further evidence of its desire to diversify.