MSN and Staples Form Alliance to Bring Technology to Customers

REDMOND, Wash., April 25, 2001 — The MSN® network of Internet services, the leading consumer network in the world with 230 million unique users, and Staples Inc. (Nasdaq:
), the pioneer of the office superstore industry, today announced a broad agreement designed to strategically align Staples with MSN. As part of the agreement, MSN will become the preferred provider of Internet access at Staples stores throughout the United States. The alliance also encompasses Internet access promotion through joint in-store and online marketing efforts, the promotion of Staples throughout MSN, and back-end technology assistance.

Under the three-year agreement, MSN will become the preferred provider of Internet access and Internet access devices, such as MSN Companion, at more than 830 Staples stores across the United States. will have prominent placement across MSN properties, including becoming an anchor tenant on MSN eShop. In addition, MSN will provide training tools to help Staples’ associates work with customers.

This agreement expands on the current relationship between MSN and Staples, which is designed to bring MSN Internet Access promotions to Staples customers. Currently, Staples offers consumers a year of MSN Internet Access with the purchase of a qualifying PC.

“Working with Staples provides MSN with another outlet to reach even more consumers and provide them with online content and services to be more productive in their daily lives,”
said Yusuf Mehdi, vice president of MSN.
“We’re excited to be taking our relationship with Staples to the next level, fostering our mission to empower consumers through great software and services – any time, any place and on any device.”

“We’ve selected MSN based on the superior online experience the company offers today and its commitment to continually develop technology that enhances the online experience,”
said Jonathan Magasanik, senior vice president of merchandising at Staples.
“This is very much a forward-looking decision to offer MSN to Staples’ customers.”

The alliance allows two recognizable brands, MSN and Staples, to provide the tools and connectivity solutions to help millions of customers get online and make the most out of the Internet, and offers exciting incentives for getting connected through MSN as well.

About Staples

Staples is an $11 billion retailer of office supplies, furniture and technology to consumers and businesses from home-based businesses to Fortune 500 companies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal. Headquartered outside Boston, Staples invented the office superstore concept and today is the largest operator of office superstores in the world. The company has over 50,000 employees serving customers through more than 1,300 office superstores, mail order catalogs, e-commerce and a contract business. More information about the company is available at .

Certain information contained in this news release constitutes forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors including risks related to Staples’ ability to compete in its highly competitive market, Staples’ ability to continue to successfully open new stores, Staples’ quarterly operating results being subject to significant fluctuation, Staples’ stock price fluctuating based on the expectations of professional securities analysts, the strain on operations due to Staples’ rapid growth which can affect operating results, the ability of Staples’ foreign operations and to become profitable and the ability of Staples to obtain adequate future financing. Additional information concerning these factors is contained in Staples’ Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q dated Dec. 11, 2000, which is on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

About MSN

MSN gives consumers a new home on the Internet – a central place where they can get everything they need from the Web and make the most of their time online. With more than 230 million visitors per month, the MSN integrated network of content and services is the most popular destination on the Internet. MSN is available in 33 markets and in 17 languages – a broader global presence than any other network. MSN takes advantage of the Microsoft® .NET platform to offer leading services, any time, any place and on any device, with an integrated and personalized user experience for communications, search, shopping, personal finance and entertainment. MSN Internet Access and the recently introduced MSN Explorer offer quick, personal and exciting ways to get on to and take advantage of the Web. Best-of-breed services include the MSN Hotmail® Web-based e-mail service, the world’s largest Web-based e-mail system; MSN Messenger Service, one of the fastest-growing instant messaging services on the Web; MSN Search, the second most popular online search service; MSN Mobile, the customizable wireless information service; the award-winning MSN MoneyCentral™
online personal finance guide; MSN eShop, the one-stop online shopping resource; and MSN Custom Web Sites, the easy way to share information on the Web. MSN is located on the Web at .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies 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, MSN, Hotmail and MoneyCentral 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.

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

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