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CONTACT:
Jean Barnes
Covast Corporation
(404)812.7157
jbarnes@covast.com

Microsoft Strengthens Relationship With Covast to Help Customers Surpass EDI Challenge
Oldcastle Architectural Inc., a CRH plc Company, Turns to BizTalk Server and Covast EDI Accelerator for End-to-End B2B Solution

REDMOND, Wash. - May 6, 2003 - Microsoft Corp. today announced that it has signed an agreement that makes Covast a premier member of the BizTalk® Server Partner Program. Covast provides the EDI Accelerator for BizTalk Server, which enables complex electronic data interchange (EDI) support within Microsoft® BizTalk Server. As part of the agreement, Microsoft plans to license portions of the Covast EDI Accelerator in future e-business solutions, creating an enhanced solution for business-to-business (B2B) communication.

Organizations are increasingly basing new integration projects on Extensible Markup Language (XML), but want to preserve their existing trading communities and business processes based on EDI. Oldcastle Architectural Inc., a leading North American producer of concrete masonry, lawn, garden and paving products as well as clay bricks, faced this situation when the company installed a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and wanted to be able to easily move customer information into and out of the system. It chose to use the combination of Microsoft BizTalk Server and Covast EDI Accelerator to create an end-to-end B2B solution.

"We needed flexibility to connect with customers using EDI and AS2, and we needed to route that information using XML to our ERP system," said Jerry Kottelenberg, CIO at Oldcastle. "We chose to use BizTalk Server along with the Covast EDI Accelerator for our integration platform in order to achieve this flexibility. This solution enables us to rapidly connect with our customers and communicate in the manner that best suits the customer. Our results show increased productivity due to the flexibility and end-to-end integration of this Microsoft and Covast solution."

BizTalk Server Continues to Grow
One of the biggest challenges for enterprises today is creating a connected business. Enterprises can address this challenge with Microsoft e-business server products such as BizTalk Server. A single solution based on industry standards such as XML and Simple Object Access Protocol, BizTalk Server integrates applications and automates business processes. Having gained more than 2,200 customers in just over two years, BizTalk Server is one of the fastest growing integration servers on the market. This agreement with Covast highlights one more way that BizTalk Server will enable customers to more easily connect to trading partners, creating additional productivity and enabling them to attain a truly connected business.

"Companies are constantly looking for more ways to ease the process of connecting to their trading partners," said Eric Swift, group product manager for E-Business Servers at Microsoft. "Because of Covast's expertise with EDI, we chose to work with it on an enhanced solution that would help companies solve the EDI challenge. This is great news for customers that have been looking for a way to work with EDI without needing to buy a single-purpose EDI server."

Covast enables companies to easily integrate their EDI infrastructures with internal applications and provides a gateway for connecting trading communities. Covast is the recommended EDI solution for the BizTalk Server environment. More information is available at http://www.covast.com/.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") 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.

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Microsoft and BizTalk 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.

For more information, press only:

Alexa Miller, Waggener Edstrom, (425) 638-7000, alexam@wagged.com
Rapid Response Team, Waggener Edstrom, (503) 443-7070, rrt@wagged.com

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft's corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft's Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.asp.

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