Microsoft and Compaq Bring the Everyday Web to Millions of Consumers

REDMOND, Wash., March 20, 2000 — Microsoft and Compaq today announced that they are expanding their relationship to deliver the best of the Internet for consumers. Under the three-year agreement, the two companies will combine leading software and hardware, popular Internet services and PC technologies to create a joint online service, Compaq.Net powered by MSN. The service is designed to deliver an unparalleled
“out of the box and onto the Internet”
experience for consumers by allowing them to register their new Compaq PCs and sign up for Compaq.Net in one easy step, then establish an Internet connection with a click of a button using Compaq’s “Instant Internet” keyboard buttons.

PressPass asked Rick Belluzzo, group vice president of the consumer group at Microsoft, and Mike Larson, senior vice president and general manager of the consumer business unit at Compaq, to talk about the alliance and how it delivers MSN’s vision of the Everyday Web to consumers.

PressPass: Why are Microsoft and Compaq entering into this alliance?

Belluzzo: Microsoft is working with Compaq to provide consumers a fast, simple way to sign on and get the best of the Internet by combining the strength of industry-leading Compaq consumer PCs with award-winning MSN services. This complete offering provides consumers who are interested in receiving premium services with the opportunity to get the Compaq.Net service preloaded and optimized on Compaq PCs, right out of the box.

Because Compaq is the leading PC provider for consumers and distributes its products to a very broad retail channel — over 13,500 retailers in the United States — this alliance gives consumers another great avenue for getting MSN services, bringing Microsoft one step closer to its vision of the Everyday Web.

Larson: Compaq and Microsoft have a long history of working together to develop technology that improves peoples’ computing experiences. Because a great deal of the customer PC experience happens when users are online, Compaq is committed to providing a tightly integrated solution of hardware and online services to ensure consumers get the best overall experience.

We really like the direction Microsoft is taking with the Everyday Web, so we’re expanding the value of our online service, Compaq.Net, by powering it with MSN services and creating the first version of MSN that is customized for a particular PC. This joint service will provide not only better value, but also a better service for consumers.

PressPass: What are the terms of the agreement?

Belluzzo: MSN is providing Internet access, a customized version of MSN, and customer service and support to Compaq customers. Compaq will optimize its Presario line of consumer PCs for the service and will integrate Compaq.Net powered by MSN as the default and featured choice in the Internet sign-up process on new PCs. MSN will also promote the service to our existing customer base.

Larson: The synergy between Microsoft and Compaq has a lot of value. The two companies will be working together to promote and market this joint service so that we clearly communicate the value to consumers. Consumers are faced with so many choices today;todayto it’s much easier to make a selection based on two of the most experienced and recognized Internet companies co-developing solutions to provide the best Internet experience. And this will continue into the future.

PressPass: What exactly does this joint online service mean for consumers?

Larson: When consumers buy PCs, they traditionally have had to go through a number of time-consuming steps to register their PCs and establish an Internet connection. Compaq and MSN are making it really easy to simply take the PC out of the box and start surfing the Web by reducing PC registration and ISP sign-up to a one-step process. Users register their PCs by filling out an online form as they normally would, but by providing a few more pieces of information they also quickly establish an Internet connection with Compaq.Net powered by MSN . They don’t have to go through the process of choosing an Internet Service Provider and filling out an additional form to get connected.

In addition, the joint service gives users an instant connection to Compaq.Net from Compaq’s Instant Internet keyboard, a new Compaq innovation that provides one-touch access to favorite Web sites and personalized access to all the premium services of MSN, including MSN Hotmail, MSN MoneyCentral online personal finance, MSN Search and MSN eShop.

Belluzzo: Compaq.Net powered by MSN is customized to help users get the most out of the Internet through the Presario PC — the best in providing an integrated experience. MSN and Compaq have optimized the service for the Presario PC and rigorously tested it to ensure optimal performance.

PressPass: How will Compaq.Net provide a better Internet experience than other similar joint services?

Belluzzo: With other solutions, consumers aren’t getting anything that’s specifically optimized to make the PC perform better on the Internet or lend a better user experience through speed or ease of use. This is the most integrated consumer offering available, complete with hardware, software and services in one consolidated experience. It is truly unique.

Larson: Yes, this is really a co-developed online service, whereas other companies are working together mostly to sell jointly to their respective customer bases. What we’re talking about with this alliance is linking hardware and services in a way that hasn’t been done before. The possibilities are endless. For instance, users will eventually be able to simply glance at their PCs and see how many email messages they have waiting without having to log onto their email accounts, much like call waiting or the message feature on an answering machine.

PressPass: Isn’t this alliance similar to others Microsoft announced late last year?

Belluzzo: Microsoft has formed a series of alliances lately that enable us to carry out our vision of the Everyday Web, starting last fall with Radio Shack and Best Buy retailers, and continuing this month with Compaq, the leading provider of consumer PCs.

The goal of the Everyday Web vision is to enable millions of people to connect to the world of information, commerce, entertainment and services on the Web any time, any place and on any device. We’re forming these types of strategic relationships to increase the availability of MSN and enhance consumers’ Internet experience. Our agreement with Compaq, a company well known for being on the cutting edge in developing high-quality hardware to help people access the Internet, gives a broad range of consumers another choice in how they want to receive MSN.

PressPass: Will this agreement between Microsoft and Compaq extend beyond the PC to other devices?

Larson: Compaq wants to provide its customers with ultimate consistency, so that they can get information when and where they need it across multiple devices. Designing and building new devices that take advantage of the PC’s connection to the Web lines up perfectly with our eTronics strategy. We see Microsoft as a leader in terms of its ability to deliver MSN services via WebTV, Internet devices such as the MSN-based Web companion, handheld devices and wireless devices, and we’re counting on them to bring these solutions to us so that we can integrate them into everything we sell.

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