: AOL, Microsoft Ready 8.0"> MSN Marketing Director Bob Visse spoke with eWEEK about the advantages of MSN 8 over AOLs upcoming offering. "From my evaluation, I feel like in every category that matters to consumers today we have a better product than AOL for the first time," Visse said. MSN 8 and America Online 8.0 both claim major e-mail enhancements. AOLs offering is based on the sorting of mail and new icons indicating the origin of an e-mail. Several distinct icons for "known" senders, official AOL e-mail, mail with embedded images, mail from bulk mailers, mail with an attachment, "unknown" senders, and a "combo" icon to indicate a combination of the other factors."MSNs e-mail has always been better, but it hasnt been enough to make anybody switch," he added. MSN 8s major contribution to mail handling is a junk mail filter that claims to drastically reduce annoying "spam." It looks like improved junk mail filters may be on the way for AOL members as well. America Online has been running a beta recently soliciting members to forward them legitimate e-mail so that AOL can refine their spam filters. Microsoft has also completed a major overhaul of its parental controls in MSN 8. The new online history report captures and lists web sites that the child visits, allowing the parent to view details about whether the site was viewed or whether it was blocked by MSN. MSN 8 also allows parents to monitor the number of e-mails the child is sending, and who they are sending them to. But Card was not convinced that parental controls were a major factor in consumers decision which online service to use. "I dont think anyone will switch as a result of the new parental control features," he said. He added that traditionally, only America Onlines members have been users of ISP parental controls. Visse touted MSNs more robust instant messaging controls. "We have a way to lockdown the IM buddies that are on the childs contact list, so if you set the parental controls to instant messenger being restricted, you can only have new contacts that are added to the childs list that are approved by the parent," he said. "The parent is now in control of the instant messaging contacts the child can contact." Visse noted that on AOL 8.0, the only instant messaging controls for parents are whether to enable or disable the feature on their childs account. It was not immediately clear how AOL 8.0s parental controls would be changed, as details have not yet been released by America Online. A July statement did promise a "report card" feature similar to MSNs online history report, as well as more general improvements to the parental control options. Since the release of America Online 7.0, speculation has snowballed that America Online would replace Microsofts Internet Explorer browser with Netscape, which is owned by AOL Time Warner. In the most recent test versions of AOL 8.0, the browser continues to be Internet Explorer, although AOL is currently running a test of AOL 7.0 with Netscape as the internal browser. This could serve as an indication that AOL is continuing to consider the option of changing browsers or allowing users to select their own in the future. AOL will get a jump on Microsoft by releasing AOL 8.0 on October 15, a week before MSN 8 is due on October 24. A spokesperson for America Online would not comment on the software before it is released. America Onlines latest figures claim 35 million subscribers to its AOL service, more than four times as many as the MSN service which Microsoft says has 8.7 million members. Related Stories:
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David Card, Senior Analyst with Jupiter Research told eWEEK, "I dont think anyone who wants a powerful e-mail client would use AOLs."