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MICROSOFT DEBUTS MAPPOINT 2004 BUSINESS MAPPING SOFTWARE.

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) has debuted Microsoft MapPoint 2004 North America and Microsoft MapPoint 2004 European Edition, the latest versions of its business mapping and location-based data visualization software.

MapPoint 2004 business mapping software, a standalone application that complements the Microsoft Office System, addresses the growing need among businesses for an easy-to-use tool that helps them locate customers and prospects, analyze data and trends, and discover risks and opportunities. Improvements over previous versions include greatly expanded and updated demographic data, the addition of consumer profile data, updated and enhanced map coverage, improved driving directions, enhanced Global Positioning System (GPS) support, and additional customization capabilities.

"MapPoint 2004 gives businesses a powerful information and analysis tool that in the past would have been prohibitively expensive," said Michael Graff, general manager of the MapPoint Business Unit at Microsoft. "MapPoint provides a wealth of demographic and geographic information, making it invaluable for planning, analyzing and reporting on customer or other business data. And because it integrates so well with Microsoft Office products, people can communicate this rich business information much more easily and comprehensively than ever before."

The company is simultaneously announcing MapPoint 2004 European Edition, which covers most Western European countries and is available in five European languages.

Improvements and enhancements in MapPoint 2004 enable businesses to expand what they already know about their business through detailed and comprehensive demographic information covering hundreds of search variables, combined with the power of location and mapping technology. Businesses using MapPoint enjoy the following benefits:

-- Increased productivity through more effective visualization and communication of business data. Businesses can better anticipate customer needs by sales territory, improve customer contact, optimize delivery routes, and track marketing efforts and resulting sales.

-- Staying ahead of competitors by turning information into insight. Businesses can better understand customers, improve prospecting with the use of census data and consumer profile data incorporated into maps, and import other strategic data. They can use MapPoint European Edition to analyze and manage business in Europe.

-- Ability to customize MapPoint to meet their specific needs. Businesses can easily integrate proprietary company data and technology for the unique needs of their company or industry.

-- Integration of MapPoint with the Microsoft Office System. MapPoint 2004 enables users to seamlessly import data from Office applications such as Access, Excel or the Outlook messaging and collaboration client and easily copy, paste and embed maps into work they are doing in PowerPoint, Word or Publisher applications. MapPoint also enables users to geographically select information from maps that can be exported to Excel spreadsheets for further analysis or use. MapPoint smart tags recognize geographic information in the user's Office document, and a MapPoint button is added to the toolbar in the Office applications. These tools allow users to insert a map and driving directions easily and create maps from their data without leaving the Office application.

-- Greater staff mobility. MapPoint can be fully installed on Tablet PCs or laptop computers to ensure access for mobile staff at any time. It ships with Pocket Streets so that MapPoint maps can be downloaded to Pocket PCs and includes more than 1.4 million business listings so users can always use the Find Nearby Places feature to locate ATMs, hotels, restaurants and gas stations. MapPoint is GPS-compatible for tracking real-time locations.

Up-to-Date Maps, Location and Demographic Information

The U.S. map contains more than 6.7 million miles of routable roads and six types of geographic boundaries -- states, counties, metropolitan statistical areas, three-digit ZIP codes, five-digit ZIP codes and 2000 U.S. Census tracts -- that can be used for analysis. The Canadian map contains provinces, forward sortation areas, and census divisions and subdivisions.

MapPoint 2004 European Edition includes more than 4.2 million kilometers of routable roads, in addition to street-level data for most of Western Europe and geographic boundaries of the state or province, regional administrative area, municipality, and postal district.

MapPoint 2004 North America contains nearly twice the demographic data of the previous version, and a set of data on consumer purchase behavior is available for the first time. MapPoint contains nearly 300 demographic and consumer profile variables for the United States and Canada, assembled from data supplied by Applied Geographic Solutions Inc., Simmons Market Research Bureau Inc. and CompuSearch Micromarketing Data and Systems Ltd. In addition, Microsoft provides 45 country-level variables.

Easier Navigation With GPS Support

Both MapPoint and Microsoft Pocket Streets, which ships with MapPoint 2004, feature GPS capabilities. Both now work with a greater number of GPS devices, including any that run NMEA 2.0 or later on COM Port 2.0 or below. In addition, MapPoint and Pocket Streets now check the GPS device for location information every second, giving users real-time GPS capabilities and the ability to find their exact location while on the road.

Greater Application Programmability Yields Custom Solutions

MapPoint 2004 also provides enhancements to support customization. Developers will be able to drive MapPoint from Component Object Model (COM)-aware development systems such as the Microsoft Visual Basic and Visual C++ development systems. Handling of the registry has been improved in MapPoint 2004: It also will register with Visual Studio .NET, meaning that applying customized applets is even easier. Applets now can be available to all users of MapPoint.

Pricing and Availability

MapPoint 2004 North America and MapPoint 2004 European Edition are now available. The product can be acquired through Microsoft resellers and Microsoft licensing programs and at http://shop.microsoft.com/ for an estimated retail price of $299. European pricing will be comparable but will vary according to currency and will be subject to currency exchange rate fluctuations.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is a provider of software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing.

Microsoft can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.microsoft.com/.

For more information, call 503/443-7000.
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Title Annotation:North American and European editions
Publication:Productivity Software
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:970
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