A leaked copy of Microsoft Corp.s forthcoming MSN 8 made the rounds on Internet sites Monday, giving subscribers an early look at the updated service on the eve of AOL 8.0s official launch.
Set to debut on October 24, MSN 8 features an enhanced version of MSN Explorer with improved junk mail filters and new parental controls.
"We worked with Microsoft Research to develop a sophisticated new technology that looks at not only the subject and the sender of an e-mail, but also at the actual body of the e-mail," said Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft corporate vice president for MSN Personal Services and Business.
A customizable navigation bar called "Dashboard" provides updated information such as weather, stocks and news, and includes a built-in media player. Microsoft has also included a gimmicky shared browsing feature lets family and friends chat and browse the same Web sites at the same time.
Along with MSN Explorer and MSN Messenger 5, subscribers will receive added software packages such as Microsoft Encarta, MSN Money and Microsoft Picture It. The complete MSN 8 CD weighs in at just over 180MB.
MSN 8 costs $21.95 per month for dial-up access and $39.95 and higher for MSN Broadband. Starting with version 8, users of other ISPs can access MSN services for $9.95 per month or $79.95 for a full year. MSN Explorer was previously made available to all Internet users free of charge, but primarily included only Web browsing functionality.
Microsoft plans to spend $300 million to promote MSN 8, in a marketing campaign that includes a giant billboard in Times Square and the catchphrase "its better with the butterfly."
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