Microsoft buys into RealNames

Microsoft is taking an equity stake of about 20% in RealNames, and the two companies will jointly market projects in Web navigation and use of brand names and trademarks on the Internet.

          Microsoft is taking an equity stake of about 20% in RealNames, and the two companies will jointly market projects in Web navigation and use of brand names and trademarks on the Internet.

          The announcement was made today at PC Forum 2000 in Scottsdale, Arizona, by Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's president and chief executive officer. Microsoft also has agreed to use the RealNames keyword approach to Internet searching in its online search function and Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser software, Microsoft said in a written statement outlining Ballmer's announcement at the trade show.

          Internet keywords employ a universal naming system that uses brand names and phrases to find information on the Net. RealNames software allows Internet users to access sites by typing in only the name of a company or brand at the address line on their browser rather than the full URL address. Companies buy the keywords as a means of driving traffic to their sites.

          Microsoft has included the Internet keywords function in its browser since version 3.0 of IE, and said today that it plans to add native support for Internet keyword extensions to IE and Microsoft Network Search in the second quarter of this year. The extensions will allow users to type "eBay antiques" at the address line and be taken to the "antiques" section of eBay Inc.'s online auction site, Microsoft said.

          RealNames and Microsoft further said they are committed to an open-standard for name allocation, as well as to the preservation of trademark and brand names. They are among the companies working with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) on a standard for Internet keyword navigation.

          Financial terms of the equity stake Microsoft has taken in RealNames were not provided. RealNames, in San Carlos, California, makes products and offers services aimed at simplifying Web navigation.

          Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at http://www.microsoft.com. RealNames, in San Carlos, California, can be reached at http://www.realnames.com/.

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