Microsoft has launched an online store in the US, selling its programs as downloads.

Following its opening on Thursday, software brands such as Office, Windows, Xbox and Zune have been made available in the shop, with a plan for the company’s hardware to be sold too.

According to a Microsoft team blog, its store is also set to be accessible to users in the UK, Germany and Korea, with plans to include France, Spain, Japan and Holland – something website marketing specialists may be interested to note.

A Microsoft spokesman said: "With the launch of the Microsoft Store, Windows Marketplace will shut down as an e-commerce site."

He added: "Marketplace will transition from an e-commerce and referral site to a Web page that will refer customers to … appropriate destinations."

Meanwhile, the company’s India subsidiary launched the Release-to-Manufacture of Windows HPC server 2008.

Microsoft says the product is set to offer an easy-to-deploy and cost-effective computing service and will now be available to Independent Software Vendors and computer manufacturers.

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