The next version of Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Internet access software is
due for release by the end of the year and for some users will sport a
significant new feature -- a price tag.
The company is readying the release of MSN 8.0, its password-protected
Internet software that allows users to access MSN e-mail accounts, news
and entertainment content and browse the Web. Along with its Internet
access service, the software competes against that of America Online
MSN 8.0 will be available for free to customers of Microsoft's MSN
Internet Service, which is available for dial-up and broadband
connections, the company said. However, to use the software with
Internet access from another service provider, customers will have to
pay a fee.
"We think this scenario will make up a significant percentage of the
people who use (the software)," said Parul Shah, an MSN product manager.
"There's a lot of value that we see customers finding in this product,"
Shah said. "We think (customers) are willing to pay for the look and
feel of a product."
Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, would not yet disclose pricing for
MSN 8.0, but said it will be sold on a subscription basis. It is
scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2002. MSN 7.0 is
currently available for free from Microsoft's Web site at
The new software will include new parental control features that allow
users to block access to certain Web sites. Parents will also be able to
control the e-mail addresses their kids use to send and receive
messages. Additionally, parents will be able to receive a weekly status
report that details which Web sites their kids visit and how long they
spend at each site.
MSN 8.0 will also feature a customizable desktop, and a new feature
called a "dashboard" where users can display instant messenger buddy
lists, news, weather, stock quotes and digital photos.
Also new will be a feature Microsoft calls "natural language." By typing
a word or phrase into the address panel in the MSN Web browser, users
will receive a list of online destinations that relate to the phrase. An
entry of "San Francisco," for example,might bring up links to maps or
guides of the city. Typing an e-mail address into the address panel will
open a window in the MSN e-mail client where users can compose a
The e-mail client in the software will also be improved to more closely
mirror Microsoft Outlook, the company's desktop software for managing
e-mail, Microsoft said.