Microsoft Furthers Everyday Web Vision by Unveiling MSN-Based Web Companions at COMDEX/Fall ’99

LAS VEGAS, Nov. 15, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today joined with industry-leading OEMs at COMDEX/Fall ’99 to preview the simple, fun and low-cost MSN TM based Web companions that deliver instant one-click access to the Internet. This announcement further demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to making the Everyday Web experience available any time, anywhere on any device. Designed for consumers who want an easy and affordable way to browse the Web, communicate with others and accomplish everyday tasks online, MSN-based Web companions bring the rich Internet experience that a PC provides in a lightweight, streamlined new format, featuring instant power-on, a single user interface and easy-to-find controls.

As one of the first entrants in this unprecedented category of Internet access devices, Microsoft has received early support from industry-leading OEMs that include Acer Inc., Philips Electronics, Thomson Multimedia and Vestel USA, all of which are working to design MSN-based Web companions. Beta versions of some models are expected by the end of year.

“Microsoft is continually seeking innovative ways to provide consumers with a choice in this ‘PC-plus’ era, and we’re taking a leadership position with Internet access devices,”
said Jon DeVaan, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Consumer and Commerce Group.
“The new MSN-based Web companions provide a great solution to help bring the Internet and the Everyday Web experience to the broadest set of consumers possible.”

The Easiest Way to Get Online, Surf the Web and Communicate With Others

The Microsoft® Windows® CE operating system and the MSN network of Internet services power the browser-based platform of these devices. They power on instantly, log on to the Internet using the reliable MSN Internet Access service and automatically connect users to the vast array of MSN services, while still providing users with full access to the rest of the Web.

Users don’t need to make decisions about operating systems, hard drives, browsers, Internet service providers, HTML or bandwidth to use MSN-based Web companions. They simply work, right out of the box, with no complicated setup and minimal instructions. There are only two wires – the power cord and phone line – that connect to the device, and it’s preconfigured to work instantly.

The look of the MSN-based Web companions will vary, depending on each hardware manufacturer’s design, but all will be lightweight; some will be flat and others will resemble a CPU monitor with a wireless keyboard. The devices represent an inexpensive way to have easy access to the Internet and MSN services from different rooms of the house. An MSN-based Web companion in the kitchen, for example, might replace the morning newspaper. Users could look up recipes on the Web or send themselves work reminders from home in the morning via e-mail.

OEM Efforts Eased by MSN Services and Windows CE

The browser-based platform of MSN-based Web companions, which includes MSN Internet Access, the TM portal and the Windows CE operating system, gives OEMs a comprehensive solution for building these devices. To date, no other software vendor or Internet service provider provides all these services in one package.

Leading OEMs are equally excited about entering the Internet access device space with Microsoft and the MSN-based Web companion:

  • “Acer is proud to announce a strategic alliance with Microsoft and the MSN-based Web companion. It is Acer’s goal to make computer technology easier to use, more useful in daily life and more affordable to everyone, everywhere. Acer is shaping the future as the world’s Internet enabler.”

    – Max Wu
    President, Chief Operating Officer
    Acer America Corp.

  • The Internet is playing an increasingly important role in our lives, providing consumers with access to more content, services and information at home than ever before. The combination of the MSN service and the Philips Personal Internet Appliance will help make the Internet experience easier, more entertaining and more accessible throughout the home. We’re making it possible for consumers to enjoy the benefits of easy Internet access – games, entertainment, information, e-mail, e-commerce – virtually anywhere in the home where there is a phone connection.

    – Adri Baan
    Philips Consumer Electronics

  • The Web companion concept promises to bring easy Internet access to consumers in all parts of the world, and Thomson Multimedia offers the global marketing capability and strong RCA and Thomson brand recognition necessary for rapid acceptance of this breakthrough product. This is a product that is unmatched for ease of use – from initial hookup through daily usage – allowing the consumer to immediately begin reaping the benefits of World Wide Web access. Functions such as sending and receiving e-mail from distant friends or relatives, planning vacations, or browsing through virtual shopping malls can be easily accomplished with no concern for booting up a PC or downloading data.

    – Enrique Rodriguez
    Vice President
    Multimedia Products Worldwide

  • We see consumers moving to a Web-centric lifestyle that demands friendly and affordable Internet devices such as the Web companion. These devices feature a simple user interface that allows anyone to quickly access the Internet and Web-based services through MSN, thus creating a user-friendly yet incredibly powerful device that enables even first-time Internet users to enhance their lives with Web services such as e-mail and e-commerce.

    – Selcuk N. Caglar
    President and CEO
    Vestel USA

MSN-Based Web Companion – One Step Closer to the Everyday Web

The new MSN-based Web companion, along with existing services such as MSN Mobile and the Microsoft WebTV Network service, are a key part of delivering on the Everyday Web vision, which involves transforming the Web from an inefficient, time-consuming and sometimes frustrating medium to a highly personalized place to accomplish everyday tasks online. This vision is centered on Microsoft’s portal Web site, the MSN network of Internet services, with the goal of differentiating it from other Web portals by making it accessible to consumers and businesses any time, anywhere and from any device. With MSN as the focus of this vision, Microsoft hopes to move beyond today’s Internet to deliver the Everyday Web, the next-generation Internet that enables everyone to make the most of their time on the Web. For consumers, the Everyday Web will make common activities such as shopping, paying bills and running errands significantly easier.

Availability and Pricing

Beta versions of MSN-based Web companions are expected by the end of the year, with general availability expected in the second half of 2000. Pricing will vary depending on device, with specifics to be announced at a later date; however, the goal is to deliver a low-cost device to consumers.

About 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; wireless services information; 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.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device.

The information contained in this press release relates to a prereleased product that may be substantially modified before its first commercial release. Accordingly, the information may not accurately describe or reflect the product 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 in it.

Microsoft, MSN, Windows, and WebTV 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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