Microsoft Pumps Up bCentral With Launch of Two New Services, Improved Web Site

Web Site Manager Custom, Finance Manager and the Newly Revamped bCentral.com

Round Out Comprehensive Set of Web Services for Small Businesses



Apr 17, 2001, 01:00 ET from Microsoft Corp.

    REDMOND, Wash., April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Enhancing its current set of
 popular Web-based business applications, the Microsoft(R) bCentral(TM)
 small-business service today launched two new online offerings and unveiled a
 new bCentral.com interface.
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO )
     bCentral Web Site Manager Custom is a comprehensive full-service package
 that provides small businesses with hands-on assistance from professional Web
 consultants throughout the processes of planning, launching and maintaining a
 Web site. bCentral Finance Manager offers comprehensive Web-based accounting
 to give small businesses improved control and secure access to key financial
 data any time and anywhere. In addition, bCentral Finance Manager integrates
 with other bCentral services, including its customer management and e-commerce
 applications, enabling complete management of business financial data,
 customer information, transactions and more. Adding to its growing set of
 valuable business applications, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) has redesigned the
 bCentral.com interface to provide small businesses with a better Web
 experience for by helping them stay connected to the important business
 information they want and making it easier to find.
 
     bCentral Offers Best of Both Worlds When It Comes to Getting on the Web
     The bCentral Web Site Manager Custom offering builds on Microsoft Corp.'s
 successful suite of Web site tools, called Business Web Services, launched in
 October 2000. Not all companies have the time or desire to design and create
 their own Web site from scratch. In fact, according to AMI Partners, of the
 5.3 million companies expected to have Web sites by 2004, more than half are
 expected to subcontract Web development services.
     bCentral Web Site Manager Custom provides the best of both worlds to small
 businesses. The service includes a professionally designed custom Web site as
 well as the ability for users to self-manage text changes and additions.
 bCentral Web Site Manager Custom also includes domain registration, site
 hosting, business e-mail, online marketing tools, telephone support and
 follow-up marketing consulting, all for less than $50 a month and a low
 one-time setup fee for the custom site creation.
     "Many customers want to build their own sites from the ground up while
 others want the expertise of an experienced Web designer to give them a custom
 look," said Satya Nadella, vice president of Microsoft bCentral. "But all of
 them want the flexibility to make their own changes without spending a lot of
 time or money. This new service complements our existing self-service
 offerings with a full-service solution that still offers all the value, ease
 of use and flexibility of our current site management tools."
     The initial setup fee, offered at a special introductory price of
 $399 (U.S.) for a limited time, offers the following to small businesses:
 
     -- A professionally designed Web site
     -- Setup of one domain-based e-mail account ("me@nameofmybusiness.com")
     -- Registration of custom Web address for one year
     -- Submission of the site to major search engines
     -- Integration of e-mail marketing services, which allow a business's
        customers to automatically add themselves to mailing lists to receive
        newsletters, special offers and announcements
     -- Professional Web consultation
     -- The option to add an online catalog, a shopping cart and real-time
        credit card processing to facilitate sales on the Web
 
     The $49.95 (U.S.) monthly fee provides customers with unlimited technical
 customer support via telephone, live online chat and e-mail; unlimited
 self-updates and self-edits via the Web-based editing tool; a semiannual
 marketing review with a Web consultant; up to 40 MB of storage for the Web
 site; registration with major search engines using key words specified by the
 customer; enhanced listing in the MSN(R) Yellow Pages directory; 5,000 banner
 ads on other Web sites each month; and 1,000 e-mail credits each month to be
 used with the bCentral e-mail marketing service, ListBuilder.
     For small businesses that want a completely do-it-yourself experience,
 bCentral Business Web Services deliver full Web services without custom design
 and ongoing consulting for $29.95 (U.S.) per month.
 
     bCentral Finance Manager Rounds Out Comprehensive Set of Hosted
      Applications
     One of the fastest-growing categories in hosted applications is Web-based
 accounting, which provides small companies with all the functionality of local
 accounting solutions combined with the benefits of the Web, such as anytime,
 anywhere access and integration with e-business. Today also marks the launch
 of bCentral Finance Manager, Microsoft's Web-based accounting offering, which
 brings unique benefits to small businesses that want an easier way to manage
 their financial data as well as a powerful tool that integrates directly with
 the bCentral customer management and e-commerce solutions without requiring
 complex or costly technology infrastructure or software.
     The subscription-based Finance Manager service offers complete accounting
 functionality, including general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable
 and reporting capabilities. The $29.95 monthly subscription fee includes
 access for up to five users (access for additional users can also be
 purchased), making it easy for business owners to collaborate with an external
 bookkeeper or accountant and delegate financial management tasks to employees
 -- all via secure Web access.
     "With the launch of Web Site Manager Custom and Finance Manager, small
 businesses now have an incredible range of options available for how they want
 to streamline and automate everyday business processes using the power and
 simplicity of the Internet," Nadella said. "Our goal has been to build a set
 of services, each of which has rich, individual value for a business but that
 work together to simplify and transform the way a business operates so that
 even the smallest company can thrive in the interconnected economy."
 In addition to the new services, bCentral has unveiled a new look for the
 bCentral.com Web site, which is the most successful small-business destination
 on the Web and the primary site to access bCentral services. The redesigned
 portal takes a more solution-oriented approach to providing information about
 bCentral services, offers improved navigation, and makes it easier for users
 to take advantage of the valuable bCentral editorial content. bCentral
 attracts more than 3 million unique users each month.
 
     About Microsoft bCentral
     Microsoft bCentral offers small-business owners the tools and resources
 they need to run their companies more efficiently. With more than 1.6 million
 registered users, bCentral is the leading destination on the Internet to
 provide integrated software services and information to address critical
 small-business needs such as customer management, financial management and
 expanded e-commerce capabilities. bCentral is located on the Web at
 http://www.bcentral.com/ .
 
     About Microsoft
     Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services
 and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company
 offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people
 through great software -- any time, any place and on any device.
     Microsoft, bCentral and MSN are either registered trademarks or trademarks
 of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
     The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the
 trademarks of their respective owners.
 
 

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.
    REDMOND, Wash., April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Enhancing its current set of
 popular Web-based business applications, the Microsoft(R) bCentral(TM)
 small-business service today launched two new online offerings and unveiled a
 new bCentral.com interface.
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO )
     bCentral Web Site Manager Custom is a comprehensive full-service package
 that provides small businesses with hands-on assistance from professional Web
 consultants throughout the processes of planning, launching and maintaining a
 Web site. bCentral Finance Manager offers comprehensive Web-based accounting
 to give small businesses improved control and secure access to key financial
 data any time and anywhere. In addition, bCentral Finance Manager integrates
 with other bCentral services, including its customer management and e-commerce
 applications, enabling complete management of business financial data,
 customer information, transactions and more. Adding to its growing set of
 valuable business applications, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) has redesigned the
 bCentral.com interface to provide small businesses with a better Web
 experience for by helping them stay connected to the important business
 information they want and making it easier to find.
 
     bCentral Offers Best of Both Worlds When It Comes to Getting on the Web
     The bCentral Web Site Manager Custom offering builds on Microsoft Corp.'s
 successful suite of Web site tools, called Business Web Services, launched in
 October 2000. Not all companies have the time or desire to design and create
 their own Web site from scratch. In fact, according to AMI Partners, of the
 5.3 million companies expected to have Web sites by 2004, more than half are
 expected to subcontract Web development services.
     bCentral Web Site Manager Custom provides the best of both worlds to small
 businesses. The service includes a professionally designed custom Web site as
 well as the ability for users to self-manage text changes and additions.
 bCentral Web Site Manager Custom also includes domain registration, site
 hosting, business e-mail, online marketing tools, telephone support and
 follow-up marketing consulting, all for less than $50 a month and a low
 one-time setup fee for the custom site creation.
     "Many customers want to build their own sites from the ground up while
 others want the expertise of an experienced Web designer to give them a custom
 look," said Satya Nadella, vice president of Microsoft bCentral. "But all of
 them want the flexibility to make their own changes without spending a lot of
 time or money. This new service complements our existing self-service
 offerings with a full-service solution that still offers all the value, ease
 of use and flexibility of our current site management tools."
     The initial setup fee, offered at a special introductory price of
 $399 (U.S.) for a limited time, offers the following to small businesses:
 
     -- A professionally designed Web site
     -- Setup of one domain-based e-mail account ("me@nameofmybusiness.com")
     -- Registration of custom Web address for one year
     -- Submission of the site to major search engines
     -- Integration of e-mail marketing services, which allow a business's
        customers to automatically add themselves to mailing lists to receive
        newsletters, special offers and announcements
     -- Professional Web consultation
     -- The option to add an online catalog, a shopping cart and real-time
        credit card processing to facilitate sales on the Web
 
     The $49.95 (U.S.) monthly fee provides customers with unlimited technical
 customer support via telephone, live online chat and e-mail; unlimited
 self-updates and self-edits via the Web-based editing tool; a semiannual
 marketing review with a Web consultant; up to 40 MB of storage for the Web
 site; registration with major search engines using key words specified by the
 customer; enhanced listing in the MSN(R) Yellow Pages directory; 5,000 banner
 ads on other Web sites each month; and 1,000 e-mail credits each month to be
 used with the bCentral e-mail marketing service, ListBuilder.
     For small businesses that want a completely do-it-yourself experience,
 bCentral Business Web Services deliver full Web services without custom design
 and ongoing consulting for $29.95 (U.S.) per month.
 
     bCentral Finance Manager Rounds Out Comprehensive Set of Hosted
      Applications
     One of the fastest-growing categories in hosted applications is Web-based
 accounting, which provides small companies with all the functionality of local
 accounting solutions combined with the benefits of the Web, such as anytime,
 anywhere access and integration with e-business. Today also marks the launch
 of bCentral Finance Manager, Microsoft's Web-based accounting offering, which
 brings unique benefits to small businesses that want an easier way to manage
 their financial data as well as a powerful tool that integrates directly with
 the bCentral customer management and e-commerce solutions without requiring
 complex or costly technology infrastructure or software.
     The subscription-based Finance Manager service offers complete accounting
 functionality, including general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable
 and reporting capabilities. The $29.95 monthly subscription fee includes
 access for up to five users (access for additional users can also be
 purchased), making it easy for business owners to collaborate with an external
 bookkeeper or accountant and delegate financial management tasks to employees
 -- all via secure Web access.
     "With the launch of Web Site Manager Custom and Finance Manager, small
 businesses now have an incredible range of options available for how they want
 to streamline and automate everyday business processes using the power and
 simplicity of the Internet," Nadella said. "Our goal has been to build a set
 of services, each of which has rich, individual value for a business but that
 work together to simplify and transform the way a business operates so that
 even the smallest company can thrive in the interconnected economy."
 In addition to the new services, bCentral has unveiled a new look for the
 bCentral.com Web site, which is the most successful small-business destination
 on the Web and the primary site to access bCentral services. The redesigned
 portal takes a more solution-oriented approach to providing information about
 bCentral services, offers improved navigation, and makes it easier for users
 to take advantage of the valuable bCentral editorial content. bCentral
 attracts more than 3 million unique users each month.
 
     About Microsoft bCentral
     Microsoft bCentral offers small-business owners the tools and resources
 they need to run their companies more efficiently. With more than 1.6 million
 registered users, bCentral is the leading destination on the Internet to
 provide integrated software services and information to address critical
 small-business needs such as customer management, financial management and
 expanded e-commerce capabilities. bCentral is located on the Web at
 http://www.bcentral.com/ .
 
     About Microsoft
     Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services
 and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company
 offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people
 through great software -- any time, any place and on any device.
     Microsoft, bCentral and MSN are either registered trademarks or trademarks
 of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
     The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the
 trademarks of their respective owners.
 
 SOURCE  Microsoft Corp.

RELATED LINKS

http://www.microsoft.com