Microsoft Announces Comprehensive Strategy to Accelerate Participation Of Businesses and Consumers in E-Commerce

SAN FRANCISCO, March 4, 1999 — At a press briefing held in San Francisco today with Microsoft Corp. Chairman and CEO Bill Gates, the company outlined a comprehensive and integrated strategy to make it easier for businesses and consumers to conduct business over the Internet. The strategy is designed to address a wide range of business needs, from direct marketing and selling to employee self-service and value-chain trading. Microsoft’s Commerce Strategy is implemented through an integrated suite of products and services, including those on the MSN
™network of Internet services, that will support Microsoft® BizTalk, a new common language for e-commerce.

Specifically, the company announced the enhancement of the Microsoft Commerce Platform with three new integrated products and services. It unveiled plans for creating an open marketplace on MSN, through broader service offerings and the acquisition of CompareNet. In addition, it announced Microsoft Passport to help improve the consumer online buying experience. Most significantly, the company announced a new industry e-commerce framework, called BizTalk, to make it easier for companies to conduct transactions, integrate applications and exchange data. BizTalk will greatly accelerate the adoption of e-commerce because it provides a common vocabulary for software across any platform or technology. BizTalk will be natively supported in Microsoft commerce products and services and in future versions of the Microsoft Windows® operating system, Office and the BackOffice® family. Several leading
e-commerce companies joined Microsoft today to announce their support for the BizTalk initiative and the Microsoft Commerce Platform.

“The Internet has forever changed the way that business is conducted,”
Gates said.
“With these tools, our hope is that the e-commerce opportunity is opened up for everyone. You don’t have to be a big corporation with a well-known brand or a company with lots of available dollars to throw at e-commerce solutions. With low-cost, high-volume tools like these, we can accelerate the market and within a year get a million new businesses online.”

Comprehensive E-Commerce Solutions for Businesses of All Types

The Microsoft e-commerce technology and services announced today are focused on helping businesses of all sizes quickly and cost-effectively build Web sites, promote their products and services to qualified customers, and revolutionize trading relationships with partners.

“Implementing the right e-commerce strategy is of the utmost importance for Office Depot,”
said Beth VanStory, vice president of online at Office Depot Inc.
“We need the right tools to build more powerful applications and a common architecture to connect with our customers and partners. We see Microsoft as a strategic partner helping to enable this effort. Microsoft’s Commerce Strategy provides a complete offering of the software and services we need, while BizTalk provides a common architecture for us and our partners to rally around.”

Enhancements to the Microsoft Commerce Platform

Microsoft outlined plans to expand its popular commerce platform with three new software products and services. Microsoft Commerce Server, a future update to Microsoft Site Server Commerce Edition version 3.0, will make it easier for medium-sized and large businesses to build sophisticated e-commerce sites. A new Microsoft BizTalk Server will provide the tools and services required to improve the way businesses share data. A third new offering, called Small Business Commerce Services, will enable small businesses to quickly build Web sites, promote their business and sell online. Support of BizTalk in all three offerings will enable tight integration with new promotional services on MSN, thereby making it easier for companies to reach qualified consumers over the Internet.

New MSN Services; Acquisition of CompareNet

Microsoft announced an open marketplace strategy for MSN, creating the ultimate shopping environment. Businesses will benefit from the innovative ways that MSN can reach customers online through advertising, distribution and promotional opportunities that allow businesses to target customers when they are ready to buy. MSN, one of the fastest-growing portal sites today, will bring together millions of buyers and sellers with the addition of new services that deliver in-depth information on the widest array of goods and services. The marketplace strategy includes building a comprehensive shopping directory by utilizing BizTalk. The acquisition of CompareNet, the leading Internet comparison shopping service, will make the directory more useful for consumers. Microsoft Passport, also announced today, will enable a faster, more secure purchase process for consumers.

Microsoft BizTalk Initiative

BizTalk is a framework based on new Extensible Markup Language (XML) schemas and industry standards that will enable businesses to integrate their systems regardless of the platform, operating system or underlying technology on which they are based. BizTalk will help businesses more easily exchange business data, such as purchasing documents and product catalogs, and conduct promotional campaigns with online trading partners. Microsoft will work collaboratively with customers, partners and industry consortia to define BizTalk schemas and to accelerate the adoption of industry standards. The company will also incorporate BizTalk schemas into the Microsoft Commerce Platform, the MSN network of Internet services and future versions of Office, BackOffice and Windows.

Industry Leaders Announce Support for Microsoft’s Commerce Strategy

A number of companies announced their endorsement of the Microsoft Commerce Platform and BizTalk initiative. MasterCard International Inc. and Clarus Corp. announced plans to cooperatively market integrated, Internet-based corporate purchasing solutions based on the Microsoft Commerce Platform. PeopleSoft Inc. announced it will base its PeopleSoft Business Network on the Microsoft Commerce Platform. And SAP AG announced support for BizTalk as well as an expanded partnership with Microsoft to develop open catalog standards and application connectors between Microsoft and SAP applications.

For more details on Microsoft’s Commerce Strategy announcements, see related press releases at .

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, Windows and BackOffice 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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