Microsoft Previews Electronic Retailing Strategy and Technology To World’s Leading Retailers

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 12, 1996 — Today, at a meeting with major retail-industry customers from around the world, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and CEO Bill Gates outlined the company’s electronic retailing strategy and previewed software technology that will enable merchants to develop online store operations. Representatives of 50 companies from industries such as retailing, manufacturing and distribution, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., attended the meeting, which was designed to gather industry feedback on Microsoft’s electronic retailing strategy and technology and discuss challenges and requirements for online retailing.

“Microsoft is committed to working with a variety of participants in the retailing business worldwide to help ensure that the software systems that are developed address the unique needs of this market in a way that will make electronic commerce a viable business,”
Gates said.

Our goal is to provide the tools necessary to easily create and manage an online store so that merchants can focus on merchandising, branding and differentiation of their products and services in a cost-effective way.

“Electronic retailing means more than just putting up a Web server and posting information,”
Gates told the group. Microsoft believes that a successful electronic retailing solution must take advantage of retailers’ core competencies with a software solution that enables a new generation of World Wide Web applications, integrates foolproof security systems, is cost-effective and works with the existing retail-industry infrastructure. Gates added that Microsoft expects electronic retailing to be a high-growth opportunity for both traditional retailers and technology suppliers and will expand and complement today’s retailing.

Working with retail-industry customers and a variety of other companies, Microsoft is developing software that will allow for common ways of creating and updating content, shopping interfaces, and credit-card authorization and payment.

The Microsoft®
merchant solution builds on the strength of the Windows NT operating system and the recently announced Internet Information Server. Microsoft’s online shopping solution will include a merchant server and a merchant workbench that includes a set of tools enabling flexible store design, product display, customer profiling and decision support. The solution will also enable industry-standard security and credit-card authorization protocols, a common means of transferring information between merchants and suppliers and between merchants and customers, and interoperability with third-party vendors and existing information systems.

For the client side, Microsoft is developing a shopping utility that will eventually be a standard part of the Windows®
operating system. The shopping utility will allow merchants to develop customized, branded online retailing systems while ensuring that the fundamentals of shopping are always the same for the consumer.

“We are pleased that Microsoft is providing a shopping utility for the consumer that will enable retailers to customize, differentiate and brand their offerings while taking advantage of a consistent, convenient and secure user experience,”
said Paul Harris, chief executive of Great Universal Stores, the United Kingdom’s leading home-shopping organization.
“Consumer ease of use, consistency and confidence in a shopping experience are critical to expanding the market for electronic retailing.”

In addition, Microsoft will openly publish interfaces so that solution providers, independent software vendors and other third parties can build merchandising applications and solutions on Microsoft software.

Microsoft also announced that Wal-Mart had chosen Microsoft as the company that will help it begin electronic retailing this year.
“Microsoft has a solid vision for solving the challenge of electronic retailing on the Internet, and this is why we have chosen Microsoft technologies and products to expand our business and reach new customers through the Internet,”
said David Glass, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
“The Web will help facilitate customer service by taking advantage of new online methods of information distribution to provide personalized and cost-effective service options.”

The preview today represents a continuation of Microsoft’s wide-ranging commitment, announced in December 1995, to embrace and extend the Internet.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, Windows NT and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Note to editors: A press teleconference with Gates and Glass will take place today from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m. PST.

Press teleconference:

Continental United States participants: (800) 424-9750

International participants: (708) 768-8011

Replay available beginning at noon PST:

Continental United States: (800) 839-4174

International: (402) 220-4883

If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft home page at To receive Microsoft press releases by fax, please call (800) 859-5915 in the United States or (201) 333-0314 internationally.

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