Microsoft Introduces Ask Maxwell, an Automated Support Assistant Designed to Find Answers for Consumers Quickly

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 16, 1999 — In an ongoing effort to simplify and improve online support, Microsoft Corp. today announced that Ask Maxwell TM Internet search technology, a new, easy-to-use question and answer service, is available on the Microsoft® Personal Online Support site at .

Ask Maxwell, which utilizes the Corporate Question Answering Service from Ask Jeeves® , allows consumers to ask questions in plain English (e.g.,
“How do I install and remove programs in Windows® 98?”
) and then directs users to the best answer located within Microsoft Online Support. Instead of using search, Ask Maxwell compares consumers’ questions to a knowledge base of known questions. It then returns a list of questions and answers that most closely resemble the original inquiry. Consumers simply click on the best match and Ask Maxwell guides them to their answer. This service helps consumers navigate more quickly and easily through the Microsoft Knowledge Base of more than 200,000 articles.

“Our goal is to help consumers achieve the greatest success with Microsoft products,”
said Denise Rundle, director of Microsoft Online Support.
“With Ask Maxwell, customers can ask questions as if they are speaking to a human being. Less experienced users appreciate the simple approach to getting help. This service puts consumers just two clicks away from the right information.”

Ask Maxwell currently provides answers to questions about the Windows 98 operating system as well as the majority of consumer products, including games, hardware, and reference and kids products. Additional products, such as the Outlook® messaging and collaboration client, Outlook Express, Word, Excel, Internet Explorer browser software and the FrontPage® Web site creation and management tool, are scheduled to be added to Ask Maxwell over the next few months.

Ask Maxwell was first tested as a pilot program with Ask Jeeves that began in May 1999. The Automated Personal Support Assistant was designed to provide customers with an easy way to find product support information exclusively for Windows 98. The success of the pilot, and the overwhelming positive feedback from consumers, led to the decision to expand the service.

“Customer satisfaction is our No. 1 priority,”
Rundle said.
“Listening to and acting on customer feedback is an important part of what makes our online support services successful.”

In addition to its question answering function, Ask Maxwell will gather data by analyzing frequently asked questions and will deliver that data to Microsoft through a regular reporting function. This feature will allow Microsoft to better understand and serve its online customers while improving the site in direct response to users’ needs.

Microsoft Product Support Services

Microsoft Product Support Services offers a wide range of support options and resources to help businesses, organizations and individuals attain the greatest success with Microsoft products. From self-help online support to on-site account management, Product Support Services provides the level of support that best meets the unique needs of each individual customer. Product Support Services’ extensive and experienced professional staff is ready to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure the greatest possible customer success and satisfaction worldwide. More information on Microsoft service and support offerings can be found at .

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.

Microsoft, Ask Maxwell, Windows, Outlook and FrontPage 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.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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