Microsoft Kicks Off Automotive Retail Solutions Initiative, Launches Partner Ecosystem for Dealer Management Solutions

LAS VEGAS — Feb. 5, 2007 — In an effort to drive technology innovation to automotive dealerships worldwide, today at the NADA Convention & Expo Microsoft Corp. launched the Microsoft® Automotive Retail Solutions Initiative, unveiling key alliances as part of a new partner ecosystem providing dealer management solutions.

Five companies — DealerTrack Inc., JM Solutions, Manheim, RouteOne LLC and The Cobalt Group Inc. — will directly integrate their industry product offerings into the upcoming Dealer Management System for Microsoft Dynamics™ AX (MSDMS). Five additional partners — AutoBase Inc., bridgeSpeak, Chrome Systems Inc., Crowe Chizek and Co. LLC and Oxlo Systems Inc. — will provide complementary solutions as part of the initiative.

“Vehicle retailers are struggling to improve sales, operational efficiency and customer satisfaction in a highly competitive market,” said John Reed, director of automotive retail solutions in the U.S. Manufacturing Group at Microsoft. “By launching this initiative, Microsoft is creating an open partner ecosystem around dealership solutions that will encourage innovation and ultimately give dealers the flexibility to manage their businesses the way they want.”

The Dealer Management System for Microsoft Dynamics AX will provide a platform for open integration between Microsoft’s intuitive, familiar technology and solutions that serve the specific needs of the automotive dealer industry. Announced in July 2006, MSDMS is being developed by Microsoft with Infonizer ApS, a Denmark-based automotive IT solutions company with a North American subsidiary in Ann Arbor, Mich. Pilot implementations are scheduled to begin in late 2007.

While other partners are expected to join the initiative in the coming months, the five companies integrating their products into MSDMS offer a variety of applications and services that help round out a complete DMS offering:

  • DealerTrack is a leading provider of on-demand software and data solutions for the automotive retail industry, utilizing the Internet to link dealers with banks, finance companies and major credit-reporting agencies.

  • JM Solutions, a division of JM Family Enterprises, creates innovative software systems for dealerships in the areas of inventory optimization, technology integration, finance and insurance menu, dealer desking, and reporting.

  • Manheim is the world’s largest provider of automotive re-marketing services and a wholesale marketplace for the millions of cars that change hands every year.

  • RouteOne offers a wide variety of tools to assist dealers in managing their day-to-day businesses, such as a detailed reporting suite, dealer system providers (DSP) integration and credit bureau access — all within a single desktop application.

  • The Cobalt Group is a leading provider of marketing services for the automotive retail industry, offering CRM applications, professional services, specialized training and more.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to work with Microsoft, and the advantages we believe our relationship will deliver to our mutual dealer customers,” said Richard McLeer, senior vice president of Planning and Strategy for DealerTrack. “This will be a deep and robust integration that will provide dealer customers with significant benefits. This relationship represents a realization of our vision — a single, integrated technology platform offered by a single provider that also facilitates connectivity among dealers, lenders and other service providers, and helps dealers sell more cars more profitably.”

“Manheim’s alliance with Microsoft will help create a new paradigm in dealer management systems by providing franchised dealers with seamless push/pull integration to Manheim’s numerous dealer applications and services. This will include access to pre-sale inventories, online vehicle registration of vehicles purchased at auction or vehicles being sold at auction, plus the added convenience of full integration,” said Ralph Liniado, senior vice president business development at Manheim.

The five partners that provide complementary solutions to MSDMS integrate today with Microsoft technology and legacy dealer IT systems. These include AutoBase, a leading provider of marketing and sales solutions; bridgeSpeak, a leading provider of speech-enabled interactive voice response solutions; Chrome Systems, a leading provider of vehicle data, systems and services; Crowe Chizek and Co., an accountancy firm that provides business services and reporting; and Oxlo Systems, operator of a leading automotive retail integration network. Microsoft also continues to support vendors that market their own dealer management system offerings which integrate with Microsoft technology. These include Automotive Computer Services Inc., MPK Automotive Systems, PBS Systems and Quorum Information Technologies Inc.

“Microsoft has a long-standing history in serving the automotive industry, and the launch of this initiative around dealer management solutions (DMS) is a logical and significant step in that evolution,” said John Fikany, vice president of the U.S. Manufacturing Group at Microsoft. “Through this effort, Microsoft’s goal is to empower our vertical partners and automotive dealerships’ employees with solutions and tools that address their day-to-day needs. Our customers’ and partners’ input will continue to have an impact on our direction. Our latest announcements in the DMS space reinforce the fact that Microsoft is not only listening to our customers, but also taking action on their behalf.”

Microsoft is highlighting many of these partner solutions in Booth No. 3899 at the NADA (National Automobile Dealership Association) Convention & Expo, running Feb. 3–6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Microsoft booth will also feature demos of Windows Vista™, the 2007 Microsoft Office system, Windows Mobile®-powered devices and Microsoft-based in-car solutions.

About Microsoft in Automotive

Microsoft has been working with the automotive industry for more than a decade. In manufacturing, the Microsoft Automotive and Industrial Equipment vertical works with industry-leading partners to develop solutions based on Microsoft technologies that enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), suppliers and customers to improve efficiency, effectiveness and knowledge across the business. Through business applications, Microsoft .NET technologies and enterprise platform support, manufacturers are able to accelerate time to market, collaborate globally with engineers, reduce costs by leveraging the power of the Internet, and increase visibility into their production and supply chain processes.

From an in-vehicle technology perspective, Microsoft’s Automotive Business Unit works collaboratively with the auto industry to deliver a wide range of in-car communication, navigation and infotainment experiences. Microsoft technology is on the road today in more than 60 OEM and aftermarket devices from 19 automakers and suppliers including Ford, BMW, Citroën, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and Volvo.

MSN® Autos, launched in October 1995, is one of the world’s largest networks of automotive buying and ownership services, visited by more than 12 million consumers each month. From product reviews and surround video features to new- and used-car pricing, MSN Autos helps consumers find the car they love, at a price they can afford. With details on more than 10,000 vehicle makes and models, and 70,000 used vehicles, visitors can research and compare, identify local dealers, and receive instructions for post-purchase service and maintenance. MSN Autos has a network of more than 7,500 affiliated dealers nationwide.

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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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