Microsoft to take wraps off MSN version 2.0

Microsoft is reportedly about to launch version 2 of the Microsoft Network.

Microsoft is about to unveil version 2.0 of its Microsoft Network, backed by an aggressive marketing campaign, according to published in Hong Kong.

The upgrade will target people who have never been online or on the Internet, with a heavy emphasis on entertainment content and transaction services, Reuters says, citing MSN product manager Michele Bourdon.

The new version of MSN is based on Microsoft's browser software, Internet Explorer, and will be available via Internet service providers or as a full online service, Bourdon is reported as saying. Pricing was not available.

Microsoft's spending on publicity for the upgrade is expected to approach US$300 million, Reuters says.

A spokesman for Microsoft in Hong Kong could not comment on the published reports.

MSN debuted last year as a proprietary online service at the same time as the Windows 95 operating system, with which it was closely linked. Intended to compete with the likes of CompuServe, America Online and Prodigy, it instead ran into the World Wide Web, which had undercut the appeal of relatively pricey, closed networks.

In recent months, Microsoft has been moving the service from an X.25 network onto the Internet, with full Web access intended to begin around December 1.

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