Windows Live Expo Beta Now Available to U.S. Consumers

REDMOND, Wash. — Feb. 28, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today will release a beta version of Windows Live™ Expo (http://expo.live.com) nationwide. Previously in closed beta, Windows Live Expo is now accessible to all U.S. customers and expands the traditional classified ad concept by providing social networking and community features through a trustworthy, convenient and free online service.

“We’ve been watching our own Microsoft® internal marketplace service for the past couple of years and were inspired by employee behaviors. Regardless of the transaction, we noticed that trust and convenience are the key factors to closing a deal,” said Garry Wiseman, product unit manager for Windows Live Expo at Microsoft. “What sets Windows Live Expo apart is that people can set their own search parameters for goods and services. They can define their own marketplace universe.”

Most classified advertising services generalize product location by a pre-defined city location, regardless of where in the city the product is located. However, all products and services listed in Windows Live Expo are geographically identified, or geo-tagged, by ZIP code, not city, which specifically defines where the product is located. Windows Live Expo customers also have the option to search for items within a radius as small as 25 miles or as large as the entire United States, making it easier to define a search. Windows Live Expo listings are also integrated with MSN’s satellite-image-based Windows Live Local so customers can view maps and aerial imagery of neighborhoods they may want to live in or see exactly where this weekend’s garage sale is.

Unlike other classified services, Windows Live Expo allows customers to choose to view only listings specific to their MSN® Messenger Contact List or personal e-mail groups, helping to add a level of trust in transactions. With MSN Messenger integration, sales can now take mere minutes, as buyer and seller discuss, negotiate and clinch a deal via instant messaging. Also, new with today’s beta rollout, when someone sends a message about their listing, an alert can be sent to customers via e-mail, instant messaging or mobile phone* via the MSN Alerts service. With upcoming Windows Live Expo releases, listings will be accessible via MSN Spaces blogs.

Windows Live Expo values customer safety and provides its customers with a Windows Live Expo-only inbox. All messages and inquiries regarding a customer’s listings are sent directly to and from the customer’s anonymous Windows Live Expo message inbox. This Windows Live Expo feature helps prevent others from seeing a customer’s personal e-mail address, which in turn reduces the opportunity for spam or phishing attacks to reach a user’s personal e-mail inbox.

In a recent beta test among Microsoft employees in the Puget Sound area, more than 25 percent of employees used the service, listing more than 3,000 items. The most popular items listed were computers, electronics, cars and furniture. The listings ranged from free items to multimillion-dollar luxury homes.

The Windows Live Expo beta includes the following marketplace features:

  • Integration with familiar Microsoft products. Windows Live Expo is integrated with MSN Messenger and Windows Live Local mapping, making it easy for customers to access, search for and locate the listings and services they are looking for. Eventually Windows Live Expo will be integrated with Windows Live Search, Windows Live Spaces and Live.com.

  • Trusted connections. Windows Live Expo customers can choose to post items for sale or purchase among only their MSN Messenger Contact List and/or e-mail groups, adding a level of trust and familiarity.

  • Integrated, advanced mapping. Products listed in Windows Live Expo are geo-tagged and fully integrated with Windows Live Local, which can help users map, for example, the location of a prospective new home to see if it really is a “waterfront property” like a listing may say.

  • More control. Windows Live Expo offers advanced search methods, rather than a cookie-cutter approach to searches. When searching for an item, such as a home, customers can provide more than one keyword, homing in on other qualifying characteristics such as square footage, price range and location — regionally or across the United States.

  • Free and easy setup. Customers can create a free, basic listing in fewer than four steps by employing an efficient user interface.

The Windows Live Expo beta is available at http://expo.live.com.

About MSN and Windows Live

MSN attracts more than 440 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 42 markets and 21 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering compelling programmed content experiences to consumers and online advertising opportunities to businesses worldwide. Windows Live, a new set of personal Internet services and software, is designed to bring together in one place all the relationships, information and interests people care about most, with enhanced safety and security features across their PC, devices and the Web. MSN and Windows Live will be offered alongside each other as complementary services. Some Windows Live services entered an early beta phase on Nov. 1, 2005; these and future beta updates can be found at http://ideas.live.com. MSN is located on the Web at http://www.msn.com. MSN worldwide sites are located at http://www.msn.com/worldwide.ashx.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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