By leveraging Microsofts brand name, market influence from its leading Explorer Web browser and a massive pocketbook, not to mention copying other Internet service providers, The Microsoft Network has quickly built itself into a leading Net access company.
The company offers little that is different from its competitors, such as America Online and EarthLink, but its massive size and impressive global resources are helping it expand quickly around the world.
In addition to basic Internet access service, MSN offers such common options as free Web-based e-mail and instant messaging, a search engine, a money management site and Internet shopping.
Its not exactly new, but its enough to recruit nearly 5 million U.S. subscribers.
MSNs global resources have allowed it to localize technologies, helping the companys Messenger service, for example, to reach about 29 million users worldwide, says Bob Visse, MSN group product manager.
The company says basic Internet access and ad sales are two of its strongest revenue areas, though most of its services are provided for free.
Visse says MSNs Internet access is just "an extension of that experience" provided by its Explorer browser. In other words, MSN is just one of Microsofts tools for building control of the Internet market.
MSN, now led by Vice President Yusuf Mehdi, is cheery about its advertising revenue growth, and Visse says the division is "having a great year in a slow market," reporting that ad revenue doubled last year as it became the leading ISP in Europe.
Thanks to its ubiquitous operations and Explorer, competitors and consumers will have a hard time hiding from MSN, no matter where they are in the world.