Microsoft Acquires CompareNet to Greatly Enhance Consumer Shopping Experience at MSN

SAN FRANCISCO, March 4, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today announced it has acquired CompareNet Inc., one of the leading comparison-shopping services on the Internet with more than 1.5 million unique users per month. CompareNet will be incorporated into the MSN
™Sidewalk® online guide, enabling MSN to more rapidly expand its interactive comparison-shopping capabilities.

CompareNet brings to MSN a unique combination of deep product content, relationships with top-tier manufacturers and online merchants, and experienced product experts who are working with influential manufacturers and retailers to help accelerate the growth of

e-commerce. In 1998, CompareNet won honors from several industry lists, including BusinessWeek’s “The Best Web Sites of 1998,” U.S. News & World Report’s “Best of the Web,” and PC Computing’s “MVP Awards for Internet Shopping Sites.” CompareNet’s content-rich databases will be integrated into current MSN Sidewalk buyers’ guides, enhancing the product search and shopping-comparison features of the service in several key categories and providing greater depth in others. MSN Sidewalk currently has 4.7 million unique users per month.

“Consumers are increasingly using the Web to educate themselves about products and services before making spending decisions,” said Matt Kursh, business unit manager of MSN Sidewalk. “The expanded MSN Sidewalk will help consumers decide what to buy and where to buy it. Businesses will benefit from the opportunity to get in front of consumers at the precise moment they are making purchase decisions.”

Since MSN added buyers’ guides to the popular MSN Sidewalk arts and entertainment guides in October 1998, traffic at MSN Sidewalk has quadrupled.

“The most popular search topics at MSN right now are products, services and businesses,” Kursh said. “Considering that research tells us between 68 percent and 90 percent of online households use the Internet to research products and services before making a purchase, and that CompareNet brings core content strengths in these areas, the acquisition is a great strategic fit for MSN.”

Kursh added that acquiring CompareNet is an integral part of Microsoft’s open marketplace strategy for broadening business-to-consumer e-commerce.

The addition of CompareNet, which has one of the most comprehensive databases of product information available on the Internet, offers MSN immediate relationships with hundreds of industry-leading manufacturers and retailers in nearly 100 product categories. Consumers can learn about and consider for purchase more than 40,000 individual products, spanning most makes, models and manufacturers of electronics, home appliances and several other categories. Once CompareNet is integrated into MSN, consumers will be able use MSN Sidewalk to comparison-shop for these products and purchase them, either through online merchants or at local retail establishments available within Sidewalk yellow pages.

“Over the past two years, CompareNet has developed one of the best shopping tools on the Internet,” said Trevor Traina, president and co-founder of CompareNet. “By becoming part of the MSN network, we will be able to offer our unique database of product information to an unparalleled number of individuals through what is certain to become the Web’s premier shopping destination.”

CompareNet has 40 employees and is based in San Francisco. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

About CompareNet

CompareNet is one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date interactive product comparison-shopping services on the Internet, helping consumers choose what to buy and where to buy it. CompareNet’s extensive database offers information on most makes and models in such diverse categories as electronics, home office equipment, home appliances, automobiles, motorcycles, sporting goods, and software and computer peripherals. The site also offers product discussion groups, proprietary editorial content and opportunities for purchase through retail partners. CompareNet is available at no cost to consumers at . The company was founded by Trevor Traina and John Dunning in 1996. CompareNet is funded by Media Technology Ventures, GE Capital’s Equity Capital Group and Intel Corp.

About Microsoft and MSN

MSN is the network of Internet services from Microsoft that helps people better organize the Web around what’s important to them. The network of MSN services, located on the Web at ( ), helps people easily stay in touch with friends and colleagues, make smart and secure purchasing decisions, and get more done. 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.

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, 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.

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