Microsoft Boosts Accessibility to Internet Gaming Zone With Latest Release

Microsoft Boosts Accessibility to Internet Gaming Zone With Latest Release

REDMOND, Wash., April 27, 1998 — Microsoft Corp. today released its latest update for the Microsoft® Internet Gaming Zone ( , featuring support for Netscape 4.0 and the latest versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer. The new version makes the Zone accessible to the majority of Internet users. With this new version, the Zone also introduced the new Zone Rating System, which allows game players to determine how they fare against other players. Chess and Age of Empires® will be the first games with the Zone Rating System, and new games are scheduled to be added to the system in the coming weeks.

“We believe online gaming is all about social interaction with a large and active community,” said Ed Fries, general manager of the games group at Microsoft. “So we’re very pleased that this new version of the Zone provides access for virtually everyone online.”

Already home to nearly 1.5 million online gamers, the Zone has more than 7,500 simultaneous users at peak times – and is gaining new registered members at the rate of one every 20 seconds.

The Zone is a collective place for gamers to play today’s best games against others for free. Players have a wide variety of games to choose from – including parlor games like Hearts and Chess, and action and strategy games like Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, Age of Empires and the Fighter Ace
online multiplayer game, the site’s first premium game designed specifically for massive multiplayer gaming via the Internet. Furthermore, visitors can navigate through the site before downloading the Zone software required for game play.

In addition to Netscape 4.0 support and the Zone Rating System, the newest version of the Zone also features a new, streamlined interface, which reduces download times and makes getting into a game even easier. The Zone further assists its members with improved help and chat features.

Variety and Popularity of Games Drive Growth

The Zone offers a popular variety of classic card and board games such as Spades, Bridge and Backgammon. In fact, Spades has grown to become the most popular game on the Zone with peak usage of more than 2,000 players. In the past year, the Zone’s lineup of CD-ROM games with free matchmaking has expanded rapidly with the addition of such popular Microsoft games as Age of Empires and Flight Simulator 98, and other top titles such as Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II from LucasArts Entertainment Co., Quake II from id Software and Scrabble from Hasbro Interactive, a unit of Hasbro Inc. These additions have brought the total number of games available for play on the Zone to 32. The Zone also recently announced support for upcoming Tom Clancy titles Rainbow Six and Dominant Species from Red Storm Entertainment.

The Internet Gaming Zone has served Internet gamers since October 1995. In May 1996, Microsoft acquired Electric Gravity Inc., the original designer of the Internet Gaming Zone. The Internet Gaming Zone offers free membership with three components: free classic card and board games, free matchmaking for retail games, and access to premium games designed exclusively for the Zone (connect-time charges may apply). Most recently, Microsoft launched Fighter Ace, a World War II aerial combat premium game designed specifically for the Internet in which more than 100 players can dogfight in a single flight arena.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) 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, Age of Empires and Fighter Ace are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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