AltaVista Jettisons MSN Apps

In a reversal that deals a blow to Microsoft, CMGI's AltaVista navigation hub has shelved plans to use Microsoft communications services in the upcoming revamp of its portal site.AltaVista, which had announced plans in March to incorporate Microsoft offerings such as instant messaging and the Hotmail service into its hub, has begun partnering instead with other outside companies for communications services, AltaVista spokesman David Emanuel said.

In a reversal that deals a blow to Microsoft, CMGI's AltaVista navigation hub has shelved plans to use Microsoft communications services in the upcoming revamp of its portal site.

AltaVista, which had announced plans in March to incorporate Microsoft offerings such as instant messaging and the Hotmail service into its hub, has begun partnering instead with other outside companies for communications services, AltaVista spokesman David Emanuel said.

E-mail service bureau Critical Path, for instance, will supply e-mail for AltaVista when the company launches the revamped version of its navigation hub by the end of November, Emanuel noted.

AltaVista also has signed a deal to feature the PowWow instant messaging service developed by software developer Tribal Voice, according to industry executives familiar with the negotiations.

AltaVista's change in course represents a significant setback for Microsoft, which last month trumpeted a repositioning of its Microsoft Network as a developer and distributor of large-scale applications for partner Web sites.

AltaVista was a showcase example for Microsoft, illustrating that the company could recruit major partners willing to use MSN-developed offerings on their own sites.

AltaVista's Emanuel provided no reason for the move away from Microsoft. A key factor, however, may have been the change in ownership in AltaVista since the hub struck its first deal with Microsoft six months ago.

CMGI, which purchased AltaVista from Compaq Computer in a deal valued at more than $2 billion in June, is building its own set of companies providing Web infrastructure services. CMGI, for instance, owns a stake in the Critical Path e-mail company that now is partnering with AltaVista.

However, CMGI ties play no role in AltaVista's decisions, according to Emanuel. "We are not precluded from going outside the CMGI family," he said.

Indeed, instant messaging supplier Tribal Voice, the company expected to supply real-time messaging services for AltaVista, is not affiliated with CMGI.

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