Microsoft Keys in on RealNames

Microsoft Corp.
took new steps Tuesday to simplify navigation across its MSN portal and the Internet as a whole, taking taking a 20 percent stake in media
company RealNames Corp.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Speaking Tuesday at PC Forum 2000, Microsoft (MSFT)
President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said the software giant
would use RealNames’ keyword solution, through a new
agreement that enables direct Web navigation via MSN Search and Microsoft
Internet Explorer browser software.

Based on open standards, Net keywords are a universal naming system that
utilizes everyday language such as brand names and phrases in to locate
information across the Internet, making Web navigation faster. Microsoft
inked the deal in part to apply pressure on AOL (AOL)
which until Tuesday had cornered the keyword market. However, AOL houses
keywords solely on its Web site to lure viewers to its partner companies
while Microsoft will offer keywords both on its Web site and software.

“As the Internet matures, so do consumer demands for a more natural
integration of their offline and online activities,” said Brad Chase, senior
vice president of Microsoft’s consumer group. “Supporting RealNames’
Internet Keywords enables consumers to use everyday words for the everyday

Working with the Internet Engineering Task Force and other companies
in the industry on the implementation of a permanent standard for keyword
navigation will continue to be a top priority for both companies.

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