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October 31, 1999

Microsoft Allies With Top Hong Kong Companies

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft Corp has considerably boosted its presence in Hong Kong by cementing key alliances with two of the territory’s biggest companies, Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) and Cable & Wireless HKT. A strategic partnership with SHKP will provide integrated computer services to a new generation of intelligent commercial and industrial buildings developed by the Hong Kong property developer. The Digital Dashboard service will offer customized internet portals, scheduling, videoconferencing, and email and electronic commerce applications.

Microsoft and SHKP will share profits from the project, which does not require heavy investment, said SHKP managing director Raymond Kwok. This partnership will not be limited to just commercial applications of knowledge management. We will be exploring other business opportunities with Microsoft, including the development of new IT services and products including Web TV and video-streaming, he said.

The second tie-up announced by Microsoft president Steve Ballmer during a visit to the territory is an internet broadband venture with Cable & Wireless HKT.

The two have launched iZene.netvigator.com, a consumer internet portal intended to boost usage of the telecom operator’s broadband network and help it expand into e-commerce. Users of C&W HKT’s broadband internet service will have free use of iZene to download Microsoft software, view movies and video content and play interactive games. Future applications will include e-commerce services, multi-point video-conferencing and email services that feature video clips of the sender.

iZene won’t be for everybody, not to start with. It’s tailored and optimized for people who have high-speed internet access, said Ballmer. C&W HKT operates Hong Kong’s only broadband internet service with a low subscriber base of about 100,000 users. iZene, which now contains only Chinese text, will add English-language content within the next few months, and be targeted at overseas Chinese. We can take iZene worldwide, C&W HKT chief executive Linus Cheung said. We believe we are leading the world in this development. We have set our vision beyond Hong Kong. Neither party would reveal development costs but they said they will split revenues, which are expected to come from subscription fees, advertising and e-commerce services.

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