MSN Sidewalk Gift Guides Help Consumers Make Holiday Purchase Decisions

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 3, 1998 — Despite all of the attention paid this year to online shopping, recent studies show that most online users – up to 90 percent – go to the Internet not just to buy products but first to research them before they buy. According to Cyber Dialogue, about 9 million online consumers will turn to the World Wide Web this holiday season to research products before heading to stores to make purchases. Another 6.7 million will buy directly online, and 4 million plan to do both online and offline shopping this year.

To help with the holiday shopping research and buying process, the MSN
™Sidewalk® online guide recently added an extensive Holiday Gift Guide to its existing roster of expert buyer’s guides. These specialized guides, which offer product information, product reviews and gift ideas, will help make MSN Sidewalk a real time and sanity saver this holiday season.

Whether holiday shoppers know already what they want or are looking for inspiring gift ideas, MSN Sidewalk can help. For example, a consumer searching for a CD player but unsure about what features to look for or how much to spend will find the MSN Sidewalk Buyer’s Guide a great place to start – it includes product information and reviews to help shoppers make the right purchase decision without leaving their homes.

Consumers who have no idea what to get for someone special will be able to turn to MSN Sidewalk for suggestions. The MSN Sidewalk Holiday Gift Guide features editorials that can help users find the perfect present even for people who are hard to buy for – from an oriental-rug mouse pad to a rooster mailbox. There’s also a special section devoted to CDs, books and videos, with brief reviews arranged by category. If they are still stumped, users can search the other gift guides on MSN Sidewalk, which cover gifts for everyone from gadget junkies, sports fans and gardeners to cooks, newlyweds, control freaks and more. Once consumers have decided on the perfect gift, they can consult the MSN Sidewalk Yellow Pages directory to find a nearby store, online merchant, or toll-free numbers to purchase via phone.

“This holiday season, MSN Sidewalk can help people find the right gifts faster and easier,”
said Matt Kursh, business unit manager for MSN Sidewalk.
“To save time and money, consumers can use our Holiday Gift Guide and Buyer’s Guide before they head to the mall, pick up the phone or surf the Web in search of the perfect present.”

Movie Guide and More

In addition to the Holiday Gift Guide, MSN Sidewalk features a Movie Guide, which previews this season’s upcoming movies. Users can read reviews on new releases as well as learn when and where the movies are playing in their neighborhood. They’ll also find information and reviews on upcoming concerts and the latest video and CD releases, and can consult MSN Sidewalk Yellow Pages directory to find the nearest video stores, bookstores, music stores or ticket outlets.

Holiday Ship It!

With the Holiday Ship It! feature, MSN Sidewalk users can send regional foods to family and friends in any corner of the country. Consumers can send lemon pepper smoked turkey, holiday ribs from one of Memphis’ top smokehouses, a fruitcake made by Trappist monks, mincemeat pie straight from England or their own personalized New Year’s fortune cookies. By ordering online or via a toll-free number, holiday shoppers can ship to anywhere in the United States, usually overnight.

MSN Sidewalk is an online guide to products, services and entertainment, featuring a Buyer’s Guide, an Entertainment Guide and Yellow Pages that allows consumers to make better decisions about what to do, what to buy and where to buy it in their area.

MSN Sidewalk is free on the World Wide Web (connect-time charges may apply) at and is a featured offering on The Microsoft® Network at . MSN is the network of Internet services from Microsoft that helps people better organize the Web around what’s important to them. MSN offers award-winning e-mail functionality; personal communications services; customizable access to news; popular sites for travel, investing, automotive services, shopping and more; an online community; a Web search engine and directories; and top-rated Internet access. MSN Sidewalk has been integrated into the MSN network of Internet services, which makes it easier for consumers to keep in touch, stay informed and get more done.

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, MSN and Sidewalk 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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