<font size="3">Microsoft to debut MSN Premium </font>
Microsoft is writing another chapter in its saga of trying to become an Internet power.
On Wednesday, the software giant will unveil "MSN Premium," a new version of its Internet service that it hopes will appeal to the expanding population of broadband users. The Internet service will offer new software features such as a digital photo editor, smoother tie-ins between Hotmail and Microsoft's Outlook e-mail software, and enhanced spam-blocking and security features. But despite the changes, MSN Premium remains cosmetically similar to its previous incarnations and continues to be a splashier version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser.
MSN Premium will not be officially released to the public until the winter, after it undergoes beta testing in the fall.
The announcement comes shortly after archrival America Online released its own upgraded service, called AOL 9.0 Optimized. The new version of AOL emphasizes multimedia content, such as streaming video and music clips, which AOL hopes will appeal to more people accessing the Internet via faster connections.
MSN Premium arrives amidst a sea change in the Internet access business. Over the past year, dial-up Internet service providers AOL and MSN, the two largest ISPs, have witnessed their subscriber bases crumble. Subscribers are defecting to faster pipes, such as cable modem or digital subscriber lines (DSL), and to lower-priced discount ISPs. AOL and MSN have also begun eliminating millions of free and promotional subscribers from their quarterly tally, causing larger-than-expected drops in their subscriber numbers.
full story: news.com