Microsoft IMG Chief Pete Higgins Resigns Post; Will Return to Microsoft After Leave of Absence

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 10, 1998 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that Pete Higgins, group vice president of the company’s interactive media group (IMG), is resigning his current position to take a leave of absence before returning to Microsoft in a different capacity. Higgins, 40, will work through the end of the year in his IMG post and will be back at Microsoft in 1999. He has run the interactive media group since 1996, leading the company’s strategies for hardware, learning and entertainment software, and online services. Until a successor is appointed, the interactive media group will report directly to Microsoft President Steve Ballmer.

“This was a very tough decision to make, but after 15 years I decided it was time to take a brief hiatus and concentrate on my family and personal projects,”
said Higgins.
“I look forward to coming back and immersing myself in the next challenge.”

Over the last two years, IMG has revamped and extended its industry-leading hardware product family, including the relaunch of the popular Microsoft® Mouse line and the introduction of innovative game player accessories and the ActiMates
™family of interactive toys. In the retail software business, IMG has successfully enhanced its popular Encarta® multimedia encyclopedia reference family and consumer productivity lines while significantly expanding its presence in PC games, with new titles such as the
“Age of Empires® ”
game and the perennial best-seller,
“Flight Simulator.”

The company has also made significant strides in the online arena over the past two years. Following Microsoft’s shift from a proprietary dial-up online service, Higgins completely revamped the division’s strategy and focus to successfully compete in the Internet online services business. Over the last year alone, Microsoft has accomplished the following:

  • Consolidated its online portal offerings into one site,, which has grown to be the No. 3 consolidated network on the World Wide Web with a 40.5 percent reach. This is up from just 24 percent in January, making it the fastest-growing network in 1998, according to a September 1998 Media Metrix report.

  • Delivered a wide range of critically acclaimed online services, many of which are leaders in their respective categories, including travel (the MSN
    travel service), news (MSNBC), automotive (the MSN CarPoint
    online automotive service), e-mail (MSN Hotmail), games (the MSN Gaming Zone) and access (MSN Internet Access, recent winner of the J.D. Powers customer satisfaction award)

  • Made several significant acquisitions in the past year, including Hotmail, the No. 1 Web-based e-mail service, with over 28 million accounts worldwide; Firefly, the leading Internet privacy technology company; and Link Exchange, the leading provider of online marketing services to Web site owners and small and medium-sized businesses

  • Enhanced multiple joint ventures and strategic alliances with companies such as NBC (MSNBC), American Express (AXI corporate travel service), First Data Corp. (TransPoint Internet billing JV) and PBL (NINEMSN)

  • Announced plans to launch local portals in 24 additional countries and regions, making MSN the most widely distributed portal in the world, available to over 90 percent of the online population

  • Signed more than $150 million in advertising and commerce agreements over the past 45 days, underscoring the value of MSN as a key Internet distribution and advertising medium. Deals include the $90 million FirstUSA advertising deal and the $60 million search engine distribution deal.

Higgins joined Microsoft in 1983 as a product manager. He rapidly moved up within the organization, leading Microsoft Excel past Lotus 1-2-3 to become the most popular spreadsheet for both the Windows® operating system and the Macintosh. He became senior vice president of the company’s desktop applications division in 1992. In that role, Higgins led the development of Microsoft Office, the company’s leading application product and one of the most successful software products of all time.

“Pete was instrumental in building the premier software application business in the world and has played a key role in formulating and executing Microsoft’s online strategy,”
said Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft.
“He raised the prospect of taking a break and returning in a new role some time ago, but agreed to stay until the end of the year. Pete is a respected leader and business strategist and a very good friend. He’s made enormous progress building our online business. I’m going to greatly miss having him around day to day, but I look forward to him returning in an equally challenging role.”

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, ActiMates, Encarta, Age of Empires, MSN, Expedia, CarPoint and Windows 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.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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