MSN Software Gets a Price Tag

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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

Inc.

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

http://explorer.msn.com/home.htm.

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

message.

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.

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