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Windows on the Web
-- The biggest roadblock to electronic commerce is a lack of trust, says the Boston Consulting Group. Its eTrust Internet Privacy Study revealed more than 41 percent of consumers said they leave Web sites when asked to provide registration information, and another 27 percent provide false information.
-- Minuscule advertising revenues have forced some high-profile sites to close their doors. Politicsnow.com, the electronic place to visit during the last election, shut down, as did Out.com, one of the earliest gay-oriented sites. (The latter sold its site to PlanetOut, a smaller rival.) Time-Warner's Pathfinder site is rumored to be hemorrhaging money, and Microsoft's political/cultural magazine Slate abandoned plans to draw paying subscribers after getting few takers.
-- Microsoft recently previewed "Marble," a Web development platform designed to enable financial institutions to build more secure transactional sites. The platform, based on the Open Financial Exchange spec, is scheduled to ship in September.
-- America Online SAYS it's working on a case-by-case basis with subscribers who feel they were billed inappropriately after using the service's toll-free number. The company started receiving complaints last fall, at a rate of about 600 a month, according to a spokesperson. AOL makes it clear that there's a $6-an-hour surcharge for the number, but many subscribers receive the numbers via word of mouth with no information about the surcharge.