MSN Announces Strategy to Become the Web’s Premier Marketplace

SAN FRANCISCO, March 4, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today unveiled its open marketplace strategy for creating the ultimate consumer shopping environment and bringing together millions of buyers and sellers. The MSN
™online service, one of the fastest-growing portal sites today, will add new services that deliver in-depth information on a wide array of goods and services. Specifically, the enhanced marketplace strategy for MSN will include a comprehensive shopping directory built through the use of BizTalk, a new e-commerce framework also announced today; shopping services that make this directory valuable and are enhanced with the acquisition of CompareNet, one of the leading Internet comparison-shopping service; and a secure purchase process for consumers on MSN and other Web sites through the new Microsoft® Passport service for online consumers. These MSN services will allow marketers to reach motivated buyers in ways not possible previously through online or print media efforts.

“Microsoft is extremely committed to enabling e-commerce between consumers and businesses and continuing to expand the e-commerce services on MSN,” said Bob Herbold, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Microsoft. “Enhanced marketplace services will allow consumers to do some of the fastest, smartest shopping they’ve ever done, and sellers to promote their goods and services, reaching millions of customers with great impact. The CompareNet acquisition will be instrumental in helping us take the next big step toward delivering on this vision.”

MSN: The Better Way to Shop Online

Today MSN allows buyers to gain insight, make decisions and take action on a wide variety of products and services. Soon an integrated shopping experience woven throughout MSN services, including the Sidewalk® city guide, the CarPoint
online automotive service and the Expedia
travel service, will provide consumers with broad choices, easy-to-use product comparisons and private, secure buying. Customers will enjoy the convenience of access to the largest collection of in-depth product information, as well as tools to assist them in making a decision when comparing products. Enhanced services will enable customers to search for merchants that carry specific products, seek out current promotions, or request notification when products or services of interest to them are available at a special price.

For example, a customer interested in purchasing a new television would be able to research the latest features and innovations as well as access product reviews and shopping tips to gain insight into the products available. She can find and compare models that meet her personal preferences for brand, quality, price or other attributes, and view special offers and promotions from online and local retailers. In addition, the customer would have the ability to buy from an online merchant or search by ZIP code for a retail store nearby that meets the specific criteria.

BizTalk Connects Buyers and Sellers

MSN offers innovative advertising, distribution and promotional opportunities that allow businesses to target customers when they are ready to buy. In addition, MSN is making it easy for manufacturers and merchants to easily publish up-to-the-minute product and targeted promotional data to MSN. This new service is enabled through BizTalk, the new Microsoft
e-commerce framework that makes it easy for companies to integrate applications and conduct business over the Internet. Through BizTalk, Microsoft will enable a wide variety of merchants and manufacturers, regardless of size or technology platform and including traditional “brick-and-mortar” shops, to participate in MSN by giving them a common format for publishing information about their businesses, products and promotions to MSN and other consumer marketplaces on the Web. Microsoft Commerce Server and Small Business Commerce Services will provide native support for the BizTalk framework to make it even easier for businesses to connect with the marketplace. The MSN BizTalk effort is supported by industry leaders 1-800-FLOWERS,, Best Buy Online Inc., Dell Computer Corp., Eddie Bauer Inc., Office Depot Inc. and Sharp Electronics Corp., which have endorsed Microsoft’s strategy and plan to support the MSN commerce initiatives.

CompareNet Acquisition

The acquisition of CompareNet helps MSN to provide a comprehensive and in-depth comparison-shopping experience on the Web. Headquartered in San Francisco, CompareNet was founded in the fall of 1996 to provide Web users with an easy way to find and compare consumer products. By combining MSN Sidewalk, with its entertainment guide, buyer’s guides and yellow pages, and CompareNet, with its broad category coverage, deep product data and relationships with hundreds of manufacturers and online merchants, Microsoft will deliver the ultimate Web resource for helping consumers make spending decisions (see related release).

Microsoft Passport Provides Single-Click Shopping With Increased Control and Security

Microsoft will be providing new services for Web sites including MSN and other third parties that will deliver single-click shopping on a wide array of sites and make it easier for users to securely manage personal information. The single sign-in, registration and electronic wallet services of Microsoft Passport will make consumers’ online experience more convenient by providing greater control of personal information, secure online purchasing and more personalized content.

Microsoft Passport supports the principle that consumers have control of their personal information, which is in accordance with Microsoft’s posted privacy policies, which have been approved by TRUSTe, a leading third-party privacy-enforcement organization. Microsoft will extend Passport services across all MSN sites, the Hotmail
Web-based e-mail service, the Microsoft Web site (at ) and third-party sites that adhere to a strict privacy policy, which includes being licensed by privacy organizations such as TRUSTe or BBBOnline.

For site operators, Microsoft Passport will lower barriers to purchasing and improve targeted marketing to customers. By enabling businesses to reach the right customer with the right message in a convenient, secure environment, Passport will help businesses to increase advertising and transaction revenues and to build stronger relationships with their customers.

For more details on Microsoft’s Commerce Strategy, see related releases or visit .

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.

Some of the information contained in this press release relates to prerelease products that may be substantially modified before their first commercial release. Accordingly, the information may not accurately describe or reflect the products when first commercially released. The press release is provided for informational purposes only, and Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the press release or the information contained on it.

Microsoft, MSN, Sidewalk, CarPoint, Expedia and Hotmail 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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