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Microsoft Targets Banks, Brokerages With New Finance Products

Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of Investor Platform Kit (IPK) and version 2.0 of the Internet Finance Server Toolkit, two products aimed at financial services institutions.

The Investor Platform Kit, which incorporates technology used for the Microsoft Investor Web site, is slated for a summer release to banks, brokerage houses, and insurers.

Microsoft said IPK is compatible with both Internet Explorer and Netscape browsers, and with Web sites running on financial institutions' own platforms.

Companies can use IPK to track and research investments online in three ways: by branding Microsoft Investor as their own offering; by licensing client-side software components of Investor; or by licensing components along with the servers that support them.

"We've built the fastest growing investing site on the Web," said Lewis Levin, vice president of the desktop finance division at Microsoft. "In addition to sending customers to financial institutions' sites for trading and ongoing account relationships, we're offering financial institutions new ways to benefit from Microsoft Investor."

"As the number of people investing and banking online continues to skyrocket, software really matters--and we want to offer financial institutions a proven, compelling and customizable solution enabling them to offer first-class products and services to their online customers."

Microsoft's second finance product announcement, introduced today at the Microsoft FinNet conference, is the 2.0 version of its Internet Finance Server Toolkit (MIFST), which is scheduled for an end-of-year release.

Previously code-named "Marble," MIFST will use an unnamed specification that converges Open Financial Exchange and GOLD (OFX/GOLD), enabling the exchange of investor data and instructions between the client and corporate sides. Other enhancements are to be announced at a later date.

Financial companies presently using MIFST's pre-built bill presentation code in their platforms allow customers to perform most banking functions online, such as electronic bill payment, fund transfers, and the ability to view statements.

Microsoft said that over 100 corporate finance concerns currently use MIFST, including PainWebber, Wells Fargo, and ADP.