AUCKLAND, New Zealand, May 10, 2001 — Microsoft today announced it has extended its relationship with Telecom, the leading fixed-line, mobile, Internet and data-communications provider in New Zealand, agreeing to unite the MSN and Xtra Internet portals in New Zealand.
The new portal, dubbed XtraMSN, integrates MSN services and technologies with Xtra’s deep local content and advertising relationships. Xtra will manage the operation, development and marketing of the new consumer portal. MSN services such as Hotmail, MSN Messenger, MSN Communities and MSN Search will combine with Xtras popular news and information channels to form XtraMSN.
PressPass spoke with Geoff Lawrie, managing director of Microsoft New Zealand, about the new, integrated portal.
PressPass: What can consumers expect to see on XtraMSN.co.nz?
Lawrie: We will have a very broad range of offerings, with an emphasis on communications, search and a strong local approach. The portal will offer consumers core communication services such as the MSN Hotmail Web-based e-mail service, MSN Messenger, MSN Web Communities and the MSN Search function.
Customers will also benefit from the high-quality New Zealand news and information for which Xtra is already known.
PressPass: How will XtraMSN be different from Xtra.co.nz or msn.co.nz?
Lawrie: The big advantage for customers using the new XtraMSN site will be the convenience of having all the capabilities of both services easily accessible from a single portal. Previously, people had to visit both msn.co.nz and Xtra.co.nz to use these great products and services. The point of a home page is that it is your first port of call, from where you execute all your preferred online activities. Thats what we will achieve with XtraMSN.
PressPass: What difference will it make to consumers Internet experiences?
Lawrie: Consumers will enjoy a richer Internet experience — a portal that has great features such as MSN Messenger, MSN Hotmail including Calendar services, Chat and Community products, together with other MSN products; as well as New Zealand news and information, a search engine and more. And everything will be accessible from a single portal, rather than having to visit different locations.
XtraMSN will also strengthen the New Zealand online community — people who choose XtraMSN.co.nz as their homepage will be able to connect and keep in touch more effectively through the Community products that MSN offers. The Internet is not just an information source, it is a way of connecting to and communicating with other people. XtraMSN will help make that a reality for all our customers.
PressPass: How will XtraMSN differ from existing portals in New Zealand?
Lawrie : Many of the individual services we plan to offer are already available to consumers, but they will be delivered in a more comprehensive and integrated way. We will offer global services, but we strongly emphasize local content. In Xtra, we’re partnering with the leading New Zealand content provider to provide services especially for the needs of the New Zealand market.
Microsoft technologies such as Passport and personalization services enable Internet users to easily create what we call
“an Everyday Web”
that works for them. By combining these technologies with the best local and regional content, our portal will bring this power to people all over New Zealand.
PressPass: What will make consumers want to use XtraMSN rather than another portal?
Lawrie: Xtra has conducted qualitative research with its customers that indicated the kinds of things they wanted to see in a New Zealand portal — things like better personalization capability, better search tools and access to tools like MSN Messenger. The results of the research suggested that a technology partner would help Xtra achieve this. Together, Xtra and Microsoft will be providing the kind of portal that New Zealanders have said they want.
PressPass: When will XtraMSN go live?
Lawrie: Development work on the new XtraMSN portal has already started. The site is scheduled to launch in approximately three months at xtramsn.co.nz. In the meantime, Xtra will continue to operate its existing portal at xtra.co.nz and provide its Internet Service Provider customers with online information and support from that site. While the new XtraMSN portal is being developed, the existing MSN New Zealand portal, msn.co.nz, will continue to operate.
PressPass: How does today’s announcement fit in with Microsoft’s overall broadband strategy?
Lawrie: We’re a big believer in the Internet and the deployment of broadband networks, as this will be the basis on which more and more consumers will get to enjoy increasingly valuable services. We want to help consumers move from the slow, narrow-band world of today to a fast, exciting broadband world where consumers will have access to information any time, any place and on any device. We believe this broadband future is the key to delivering a richer consumer experience and grow our industry.
Today’s announcement is part of Microsoft’s overall efforts to accelerate the evolution of broadband services. We have invested strategically in companies and initiatives that will play a leading role in making broadband Internet access a reality — including AT & T, British Telecommunications (BT), Portugal Telecom, RoadRunner, Comcast and NTL. We are agnostic about which particular technology will take us there — this is why we’ve supported a wide range of technologies such as cable, telephony and wireless services.
PressPass: Why did you choose to partner with Telecom?
Lawrie : Telecom has a leadership position in the New Zealand market. As a software leader, we think we have an important role to play in ensuring that this country has the best platform and infrastructure for the development of a true knowledge-based economy, and our agreement with Telecom will help us to achieve this.
With XtraMSN, we will deliver to New Zealand consumers the most advanced, convenient and accessible Internet service and resources available. We think consumers will benefit from improved access to MSN services and world-class technologies. And through our investment in Telecoms growth plans, we will contribute to the development of broadband access for all New Zealanders.