Windows Marketplace Opens for Business; Consumers Can Easily Discover A World of Products That Work With Windows

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 12, 2004 — At the Digital Entertainment Anywhere launch event held today in the heart of the entertainment industry, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced the availability of Windows
®
Marketplace, http://www.windowsmarketplace.com , a shopping and download site dedicated to offering consumers a broad selection of software and hardware for their Windows PC. Whether their passion is digital photography, gardening, music, graphic design, making movies or knitting, consumers will find that Windows Marketplace makes it simple and convenient to discover, discuss, compare, shop, download and enjoy all the things they need or want to do with their Windows PC, at home or on the go.

“We created Windows Marketplace to make it super easy for customers to find any one of the tens of thousands of products for Windows that help them pursue their passions,” said Will Poole, senior vice president of the Windows Client Business at Microsoft. “With its active and engaged community, customers of Windows Marketplace can talk with people like themselves as well as with experts and get all the information they need to make confident, informed decisions.”

Shopping Made Easy for Software and Hardware

Windows Marketplace provides a virtual marketplace for customers to meet, interact and exchange information as well as shop for products. It aggregates multiple offerings, including free products, shareware and trialware, from hundreds of merchant sites, and provides a comprehensive selection of products. Windows Marketplace allows people to do the following:

  • Easily navigate and discover. Designed with consumers’ interests in mind, the software and hardware categories make it simple for customers to find exactly what they are looking for or to explore new options they didn’t even know existed. Customers can browse by the more than 500 categories, by company or by the most popular products, or they can search for any product with a single click. For example, aspiring photographers can search for a digital camera to suit their specific needs and buy software to help them edit and organize their pictures.

  • Compare and buy. Shoppers can compare the products they’re considering by price, features and manufacturers’ information to make informed decisions simply and easily. They can also download free or trial versions of selected software to try before they buy.

  • Tap the Windows community. A wealth of advice from other Windows users awaits customers. They can browse user-generated product reviews and ratings or post their own, and discuss products and ask questions of other people like them, in a moderated setting, to make the right choice.

  • Buy with confidence. Windows Marketplace provides access to the most current and compatible software and hardware solutions so shoppers get today’s most advanced and dependable technology. Products that have been tested to receive the Designed for Windows logo are identified so shoppers can acquire them with greater confidence.

The Breadth and Depth of the Windows Experience

Windows Marketplace offers a rich and comprehensive selection of products created for the Windows PC. As of today, Windows Marketplace features more than 93,000 products from more than 200 merchants. More than 10,000 products carry the Designed for Windows logo, indicating that they are tested and certified to work well with Windows. Products with the Designed for Windows logo are easily identified with a shortcut on Windows Marketplace.

Available products range from hardware such as printers, digital cameras and Windows XP-based Portable Media Centers to a vast selection of software such as PC games, educational titles, fun desktop themes and more. Customers can also choose from more than 125 celebrity screen savers, more than 140 programs to help keep them healthy and fit, and more than 300 software selections to help learn a foreign language. Windows Marketplace features products for everybody’s interests and passions.

Through an alliance with CNET Networks Inc., Windows Marketplace provides pricing and product information for products from industry-leading companies such as Best Buy Co. Inc., Buy.com Inc., Circuit City Stores Inc., Dell Inc., Fujitsu Computer Systems Corp., Gateway Inc., HP, IBM Corp., IbuyDigital.com Inc., Office Depot Inc., OfficeMax Inc., Sony Electronics Inc., Staples Inc., TigerDirect Inc. and Toshiba. CNET Download.com ( http://www.download.com ) provides electronic software distribution on the site, offering Windows Marketplace customers approximately 20,000 downloadable software products.

“Best Buy is excited to be part of Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace,” said David Morrish, senior vice president for computing, peripherals and digital imaging at Best Buy. “This site not only makes it easier for consumers to find a wealth of Windows-related products online, it provides us with another avenue to help meet the computing needs of PC users around the country.”

“It’s always challenging for a small company with limited resources to gain visibility and reach a broad audience to get a new product off the ground,” said Rick Ellis, president of NextUp.com, a company that develops text-to-speech applications for Windows such as TextAloud, which reads text on a PC or to audio files for download to portable players. “Windows Marketplace provides us with an opportunity unlike any other to reach the right customer with the right product in an easy and efficient way.”

“As the president of the Association of Shareware Professionals, a not-for-profit international association of over 1,400 independent software developers, marketers and vendors, I regularly hear from our members about challenges to provide consumers with access to the wide variety of applications they will not find at retail, such as wedding planning software, golf software or whatever people’s passion are,” said Jessica Dewell. “Windows Marketplace provides our developer-members with an efficient way to put their products in front of millions of consumers.”

“Having been a moderator on several discussion groups about Windows, I often hear about the challenges users have finding the right product for their computing needs,” said Carmen Knowles, a moderator on the Windows Marketplace. “With its community features such as moderated discussion groups and product ratings and reviews, Windows Marketplace is the one location where consumers can easily exchange information with their peers or seek advice and answers from more advanced Windows users.”

Windows Marketplace will first be available to U.S. customers only, and will become available to markets outside the United States in subsequent versions.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft®
Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.asp .