Microsoft starts public beta tests of new Internet portal

Aiming to streamline its Internet portal offerings, Microsoft has begun publicly testing its Internet Start site - a faster, sleeker-looking version of the company's http://home.microsoft.com site. By the end of the year, Microsoft plans to offer Internet users one comprehensive portal that includes the company's Hotmail free e-mail; an Infoseek-powered search engine; news and video clips from MSNBC, Bloomberg TV, and Fox News; sports news; stock quotes from Microsoft Investor; local information from Microsoft's sidewalk.com sites; and weather.

Aiming to streamline its Internet portal offerings, Microsoft has begun publicly testing its Internet Start site.

The beta of the page, at http://home.beta.microsoft.com, was made available to get public feedback on its look, a representative for Microsoft said. Essentially, it is a faster, sleeker-looking version of the company's http://home.microsoft.com site.

By the end of the year, Microsoft plans to offer Internet users one comprehensive portal that includes the company's Hotmail free e-mail; an Infoseek-powered search engine; news and video clips from MSNBC, Bloomberg TV, and Fox News; sports news; stock quotes from Microsoft Investor; local information from Microsoft's sidewalk.com sites; and weather.

Microsoft hopes to position Start — which should be ready by the end of the year, the representative said — against Internet portals such as Yahoo, Lycos, Excite, and Netscape's revamped Netcenter.

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