Content Pioneer Turns to Microsoft E-Commerce Technology To Create Next-Generation Media Superstore

NEW YORK, March 28, 2000 — Promising to revolutionize the quality of media available to consumers on the Web and to transform the way consumers buy content online, has announced details of its plan to launch a new breed of e-commerce site, which include a multifaceted agreement with Microsoft Corp., a new venture announced in December, and Microsoft announced today that they have agreed to collaborate to advance the state of the art in e-commerce. will build its site using Microsoft® technologies and services, and Microsoft will invest in’s groundbreaking work in revolutionizing online commerce. The companies will collaborate on a four-point strategy designed to accomplish the following:

  • Expand the capabilities of traditional media

  • Create new forms of commercial media

  • Redefine the e-commerce experience

  • Broaden the scope of media content available to consumers

“Web shoppers – whether they’re students or business people, sports or gardening enthusiasts, or lovers of 18th century literature – are the most avid consumers of content today, and I want to offer them content not found on any other Web site, as well as new ways to buy it,”
said Steven Brill, chairman and CEO of

“Consumers want faster and more convenient access to the widest possible array of information, whether it’s in printed or digital form,”
said Steve Ballmer, president and CEO of Microsoft.
“We believe that Microsoft’s e-commerce products and services, based on the Windows® 2000 platform, will be critical to enabling’s business and technology vision. People will want to read and use media in new ways, and we’re excited to be a part of making that possible.”

Financial details of Microsoft’s investment in were not disclosed.

Pushing the Bounds of Traditional Media expects to redefine the way consumers think about and use media. New and traditional media will be offered together at a single source, with some content available for instant downloading and other content offered for purchase. Doctoral dissertations, transcripts of television programs, the text of speeches, e-books and other forms of content that have never before been available to consumers are among the new types of offerings that will be available. It’s part of’s vision of offering sophisticated consumers a complete range of content related to any subject in a single search. Moreover, by taking advantage of the new technology that Microsoft has been a leader in developing, traditional types of media will be given new power.

“Through the creative and innovative use of technology, we plan to broaden readers’ perception of what a book can be,”
said Annik LaFarge, senior vice president and e-publisher at
“We want to offer authors new ways to enliven their texts by adding elements such as audio – spoken word and music – and hyperlinks that can extend and enrich the use of footnotes and bibliography. We’re betting that these new and dynamic ways of reading and interacting with media will capture consumers’ imaginations and grow the market.” also plans to offer consumers a rich menu of unprecedented content by building on the strong editorial backgrounds and media industry network sensibilities of its executives.

“We intend to deliver content, from screenplays to the hottest TV scripts, that people will want to read but have not had easy access to before,”
Brill said.
“Our desire to distinguish ourselves in the e-commerce arena is exactly why we are working with Microsoft. We intend to change the rules of e-tailing, and we needed a technology partner who was ready for the challenge. Once our plans started to become known, we had several offers from potential technology partners, but we chose Microsoft for three reasons: They understood our business plan; they knew how to build the cutting-edge e-commerce site we needed to build; and their e-book technology will, we believe, become the industry leader.” will offer magazine subscriptions (often bundled with books and other purchases, and delivered in days rather than months), newspapers, magazines, archival materials and other research information. Many of the materials will be accompanied by in-depth review and commentary from independent experts from the nation’s leading independent bookstores and other leaders in various fields.
“We intend to offer consumers honest, hype-free advice about what they are buying,”
said David Kuhn, editor in chief at

Microsoft Technologies: Key to the Vision will build its e-commerce site using Microsoft technologies and services, including the Windows DNA 2000 platform, the MSN TM network of Internet services and Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS). Both companies will work closely together to launch an eBookstore for electronic books that will be part of the overall offering.

“Using Microsoft technologies and services for e-business, will be able to bring its business to the Internet quickly, as well as count on reliability, flexibility and room to grow,”
said Peter Boit, vice president of eBusiness Solutions at Microsoft.
“Microsoft’s ability to provide a scalable platform and innovative Web services, combined with its vision of providing access to information any place, any time and on any device, will deliver a compelling experience to consumers.”

Brill said he looks forward to opening in the summer of 2000.

About Contentville is a partnership with Brill Media Holdings L.P. as general partner and CBS, EBSCO, Ingram Book Group, NBC, Primedia and James Cramer as limited partners. Brill Media Holdings partners are Steven Brill, who is the general partner, George Soros, Barry Diller, Howard Milstein and Lester Pollack. Brill Media Holdings also publishes Brill’s Content Magazine, and the magazine’s editors and staff will be contributing much of the editorial content to be found at under the general heading
“Behind The Content.”

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, Windows and MSN are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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