Microsoft Partner Links Web Developers Community

Interactive Imaginations creates a network where developers can meet

Microsoft Corp., taking another step in its emerging World Wide Web strategy, has reached a deal with New York-based Interactive Imaginations to create an on-line network for Web developers and distribute software development tools, such as ActiveX, via the network, company officials said.

Interactive Imaginations, a developer of on-line games, in early June created the Commonwealth Network of independent Web sites around the world. The innovative concept caught the eye of Microsoft management, which was working on developing its own network for Web programmers. The two companies quickly drew up a deal.

"We recognized how difficult it is to develop a Web publishing model," said Greg Stuart, executive vice president of Interactive Imagination. "So we thought we would create a community, called the Commonwealth, and allow Web developers to talk to Web developers across the world. It serves as a bulletin board and a chat area. It enables developers, gives them ideas. Our intent is to give them tools. And all sorts of support, short of setting up an 800 number."

One of the major components of the network that is attracting developers is revenue. Microsoft and Interactive Imaginations give developers software code that they place at the top of their Web pages. This allows the company to place any ad banner it wants on the page. "They get the opportunity to obtain revenues, depending upon how much traffic they drive," said Stuart. "Basically, sites that were not getting any money now have an opportunity to get revenue. We expect some Web sites will be making $2,000 to $3,000 per month. We pay them, regardless of whether we run an ad banner there or not. There is no risk on their end for participation."

According to a spokesman for Microsoft, the company sought out Interactive Imaginations, seeing it as a venue for providing free development tools and components for Web programmers. "What we really needed was to add the one component we couldn't do, which was provide the revenue, which comes from advertising," said the spokesman. "So if somebody joins the SiteBuilders Network, they can obtain Macromedia tools, download Adobe tools, and download ActiveX tools. But if the site uses ActiveX tools, we pay them a little more for their traffic."

ActiveX tools are Microsoft's answer to Sun Microsystems' Java, a language developed especially for the World Wide Web.

The Commonwealth site was launched June 5, and the deal with Microsoft was reached in late July. Each independent ad site can carry as many ad banners as it wants. In the few weeks of operations, there have been some 17,000 ad pages registered, currently generating 750,000 ad impressions per day. The SiteBuilders Network was added to Commonwealth in late July and is now starting to reach Web developers.

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