Microsoft Corp.s Microsoft Network Internet service has been chasing America Online Inc. for several years now for dominance in Internet access services.
Next Thursday, the company is due to release Version 7 of MSN, just nine days after yesterdays release of AOL 7.0.
With this new version, MSN moves to a high-speed broadband service for the first time, using DSL (digital subscriber line) and Microsofts own broadband connection technology, IntelliConnect. IntelliConnect interprets a customers system configuration to ease the often complicated DSL installation process, then monitors the DSL line, retunes itself, and provides technology updates to enhance performance and reliability.
MSN 7 is also expected to boast more personalization, through a new My MSN page, and, according to company officials, load 30 percent faster, thanks to an improved design.
Other new features include a new look and feel to MSN Messenger, including better buddy list organization and new emoticons; MSN Search results organized by category; new stock ratings in MSN Money; and a new junk mail filter and spam protector in MSN Hotmail. MSN 7 also incorporates MSN .Net Alerts, which notify users of breaking news, stock quotes, or weather and travel updates via e-mail or instant messaging.
MSN 7 is designed to support Windows XP, which will be launched Oct. 25, though it only requires Windows 95 or later. MSN Broadband requires Windows 98 Second Edition or later.
The release of MSN 7 follows yesterdays release of AOL 7.0. Like MSN, AOL 7.0 is also chock full of usability enhancements, but perhaps one of the most important new features is the still-to-be-launched AOL Alerts service, which, like MSN Alerts, will provide news, traffic and weather updates and stock quotes. Also, AOL is expanding its broadband services from DSL to cable modem service, as AOL High-Speed Broadband service is also currently being rolled out over Time Warner Cable in its 20 largest markets.
Both Microsoft and AOL will offer specific broadband content and services, like audio and video, though MSN 7 will use Windows Media Player, while AOL 7.0 will likely take advantage of the new AOL Media Player.