Uncovering Agora: Windows Live Product Upload

There has been a lot of speculation as to exactly what this mysterious new Windows Live Marketplace product, codenamed "Agora" is.  Well, we have the scoop on how Windows Live aims to make the lives of online sellers a little easier.

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Windows Live Product Upload allows internet based retailers/sellers to add catalogs of their available products to the Live Product Search database.  Currently, as it stands, Live Product Search indexes the web for products and catalogs their prices (See our interview with the team).  With the introduction of Product Upload, sellers whose products are not already in the database can upload their details and get their products listed.  First, here is a little bit of what a catalog consists of:

– Images (.jpg or .gif)

– Descriptions

– Prices

– Links to their Online Store

I can already tell what some of you are thinking.  Once this tool is introduced, then the listings will be contaminated with fake products from user uploads.  Luckily, they have a system in place to prevent that sort of thing.  When registering for upload, the seller must provide the name of their business and a valid address of their online store, among other things.  Uploaded products and catalogs will only be posted after all of the information has been verified.  Any submissions that are fraudulent or incorrectly formatted will be rejected and the submitter's account will be placed on warning or even deactivated.

The system will also include an interface to track the status of a user's catalog.  Once your catalog file is submitted, then it goes through a processing stage that can last up to 48 hours.  After the formatting and information has been checked for accuracy, it will either be designated as Published or Rejected.  A new catalog must be submitted every thirty days in order to keep the information current.  Sellers will be notified by email a few days before their thirty days is up that they need to upload an update.

Creating a Catalog File

There are some very specific things that need to go into the product files.  I am not going to detail them here, but they will be available on the Product Upload site for sellers when it launches.  The catalog files can either be created as a *.txt or *.xml file.

Uploading

Your catalog can either be uploaded through HTTP or FTP.  HTTP uploads are restricted to 100 MB and the FTP upload process allows uploads of up to 1.5 GB.  Obviously, the FTP option is more suitable for larger sellers and companies.

For the moment, the Product Upload feature only supports English in the United States, so therefore all currency will be in US Dollars. 

When it goes live, Product Upload will be available at productupload.live.com.  We expect Windows Live Product Upload to be part of an update to Live.com coming soon.  We'll have more on that update as it approaches.