Intel has launched an online software shop and small businesses.

The Intel Business Exchange Software Download Store (Intel BX), which has been running in the US for over a year, how now opened in the UK and offers software from over 130 different companies.

Software currently available for download covers a range of categories the company thinks will appeal specifically to the small and medium enterprise, including security, reporting and database management, utilities and network management tools, accounting - and so the list goes on.

Indeed, the store looks much like any other newly-built software store, so what is Intel offering that the usual software channels can't? And why would established independent software vendors (ISVs) sign up to sell through Intel when they already have many channels though which to distribute their products?

According to Intel's EMEA director of developer relations division, Wolfgang Petersen, software is still largely sold to appeal either to the single user or large corporates. Intel's BX would give smaller UK and European companies a one-stop shop to buy products specifically suitable for SMB use.

The store will also seek to undercut prices compared to rival channels. "We will compete from a pricing point of view," he said.

Customers will be able to buy safe in the knowledge that the products had been carefully assessed, something that was not always true of conventional software channels.

"Intel is a big brand and people do trust Intel. If Intel trusts these products they must be OK," he said, describing the thought process of the customer.

One interesting idea behind the store is that Intel hopes to use it to offer a retail channel to very small software outfits that might lack the marketing nous to sell their own products to a sophisticated audience.

These products might be innovative but lack brand presence and trust without the backing of a large company such as Intel.

"It is also great for the ISV community - providing a channel to market for some of the small and highly innovative software companies who might otherwise struggle to get their products in front of such a broad audience," he said.

Key, though will be Intel's ability to attract the better-known ISVs. A store without established brands could be no store at all. Symantec's products were available from the US store and he hoped that they would become available in the UK, German and French stores later this year.