Microsoft to Form New CarPoint Joint Venture; Ford Motor Co. First to Invest in Online Automotive Marketplace

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 20, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. President Steve Ballmer and Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Jac Nasser announced today that Ford Motor Co. is the first partner in a proposed new MSN TM CarPoint TM joint venture to create a simpler, better way for consumers to design and order the car they want, when they want it. Ballmer and Nasser said the new venture will transform the way consumers buy cars on the Internet.

At a press conference in San Francisco today, Ford and Microsoft also announced that they are developing the first online Build-to-Order system to link consumer order configurations directly with automotive manufacturers’ supply and delivery systems. This will allow consumers to order any model of car to their exact specifications on CarPoint, and other automotive destination sites, receive immediate feedback on availability, and schedule delivery and service at their local dealership.

“Microsoft and Ford share a vision that buying the exact car you want can be simple, fun and efficient,”
Ballmer said.
“CarPoint is going to change the way cars are bought and sold with technology that brings together manufacturers and dealers to deliver the services and cars consumers want.”

“The consumer is driving a revolution in automotive retailing, and Ford intends to be at the forefront of that revolution,”
Nasser said.
“We share Microsoft’s consumer focus and believe that this joint venture will lead to enhanced car-buying and customer experience, helping to build a more positive relationship between consumers and dealers.”

The new CarPoint entity will bring together Microsoft, Ford and other key leaders in the automotive industry in a joint venture. Microsoft will hold the majority stake. The joint venture aims to provide opportunities to manufacturers and dealers in the automotive industry by offering consumers an open online marketplace where they can find the exact car they want. Lindsay Sparks, general manager of CarPoint for the past three years, will serve as CEO of the new CarPoint entity.

CarPoint has a history of successful business relationships. For example, through its relationship with The Reynolds and Reynolds Co. (NYSE: REY), CarPoint has built a successful channel with more than 3,500 dealers that participate in the CarPoint New Car Buying Service and the Used Car Marketplace. Reynolds and Reynolds will continue to work with CarPoint to deliver on the vision of providing consumers with a better car-buying experience.

With the planned creation of the online Build-to-Order system, manufacturers will also be able to build strong relationships with consumers by offering greater access to pre- or custom-built cars, which will then be fulfilled through a dealership.

Providing Consumers With Build-to-Order Cars

The new venture builds on the reputation CarPoint has for providing consumers with comprehensive, impartial information on all makes and models. The planned Build-to-Order system will combine existing CarPoint car-buying, shopping and ownership tools with a service that allows consumers to configure and order the car they really want. Once a consumer has decided which car is right for him or her, CarPoint technology will locate an existing car, whether it is on a dealer’s lot or on a transporter headed across country, or will place an order for a new custom car to be built at the factory and delivered through the consumer’s local dealership.

The Build-to-Order System will provide consumers with access to real-time information throughout the buying process, including vehicle availability, anticipated delivery schedules and notification of delivery plans. The technology will also enable manufacturers and dealers to get instant, simultaneous online views of the status of the order until the car makes it into the hands of consumers.

Key Technologies in New Online Automotive Marketplace

With Ford, the new CarPoint plans to feature the automotive industry’s first online Build-to-Order system that links Internet car-ordering services to the back-end systems of an automotive manufacturer. This will allow companies such as Ford to better manage the order-fulfillment process, streamlining production and inventory management through the supply chain.

The underlying technology for integrating CarPoint systems with manufacturer and dealer systems to provide Build-to-Order capabilities will include the Microsoft® Windows® 2000 operating system, Microsoft SQL Server TM 7.0 and the BizTalk TM Server for XML-based business-to-business e-commerce. Microsoft and its associates involved in this leading automotive marketplace also plan to utilize the BizTalk Framework and the BizTalk.Org open library to manage definitions for Extensible Markup Language (XML) business documents that will accelerate the standardization of electronic ordering for the automotive industry.

Another example of CarPoint technology is DealerPoint, an online lead-management system designed to help dealers manage and quickly respond to Internet prospects, reduce dealership lot time, and monitor online sales performance. DealerPoint technology will be licensed to Ford Motor Co. dealerships.

Ford and Microsoft Relationship

Ford has been an important Microsoft customer for more than 10 years and has rolled out the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office family of products on desktops companywide. Ford is part of the Microsoft Office Advisory Council and has also participated in the Rapid Deployment Program for Office 2000.

As part of its drive to become the world’s leading consumer company providing automotive products and services, Ford Motor Co. announced on Sept. 15 a new global enterprise that will be responsible for all direct consumer interfaces and work closely with Ford’s body of dealerships. The consumer-connect enterprise will expand Ford’s relationship with Microsoft and other technology companies and utilize its specialist skills to make Ford the leading consumer company providing automotive products and services through its online and other channels.

About CarPoint

CarPoint is a comprehensive consumer-oriented automotive Web site offering users complete car-buying and car-care information on all makes and models. Launched on the Internet in July 1996, CarPoint gives users fast, convenient access to detailed specifications and pricing information, reviews and advice from leading automotive writers, interactive decision-management tools, a new- and used-car buying service, and personalized maintenance and recall information. According to Media Metrix, CarPoint has been the No. 1 car-buying Web site for eight out of the past nine months.

About Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Co. is the world’s largest producer of trucks and the second-largest producer of cars and trucks combined, marketing and selling approximately 7 million vehicles globally through its seven brands last year. Ford Motor Co. employs approximately 345,000 people in plants, offices and laboratories to serve consumers in more than 200 countries and territories. Ford Motor Co. is also one of the largest providers of financial services worldwide through Ford Credit and related businesses. Ford Motor Co. provides consumers and commercial financial services through 2,400 branches in 33 countries.

About Microsoft

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.

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