In a sign that financial services will constitute a healthy chunk of its new on-line business, Microsoft Corp. announced a major deal to offer financial data over its network.
The software giant signed an agreement earlier this week with Primark Corp., a Waltham, Mass., data base and application company, to offer personal investment and general financial information from a site on the on-line Microsoft Network.
This announcement came the day after a federal judge finally cleared Microsoft's plans to bundle its on-line service with the latest version of its popular Windows operating system. Both are expected to be launched today.
Subscribers to the Microsoft Network will be able to access a daily listing of initial public offerings, merger and acquisition activity, and major Security and Exchange Commission filings, as well as summary financial reports for more than 4,000 U.S. companies. Customers can also pay to receive information on earnings surprises (stocks performing outside consensus estimates), major world financial indexes, and international economic reports.
The financial service site will also include an educational area to explain financial filings, a discussion forum where users can post messages and exchange information, and a number of live "chats" with financial industry experts.
The site is expected to be the largest offering of financial data on the Microsoft Network.
Microsoft has distinguished itself in the past year as the financial services industry's most prominent partner - and biggest rival - in one- line banking.
The company has shown a keen interest in providing financial services to consumers through on-line banking with its Money personal finance software and via information and services on its own on-line network. Earlier this month, Microsoft enlisted PC Quote Inc. to offer securities news over the on-line network.
Other on-line services also see the revenues to be reaped from advertising and expanded financial services. America Online, a competitor of the new Microsoft Network, recently set up a personal finance channel on its network, where BankAmerica Corp. and First Chicago Corp. have both established sites.