REDMOND, Wash., November 17, 1998 -- As the Web matures into a mainstream medium, Internet services must adapt to the changing needs of users. Instead of spending most of their time surfing the Web, consumers are moving toward a more utilitarian approach to the Internet that also includes reading the news and sports headlines, shopping and keeping track of personal finances.
To meet changing customer needs, Microsoft has completely redesigned Microsoft Network (MSN) as a Web-based network of services that helps Web users get more done in their daily lives. Customers no longer have to depend on their Internet access provider for the core services that are now free on the Web from MSN.
MSN has come to stand for a lot more than just a way to get online. It is an entire network of Internet services from Microsoft, ranging from MSNBC news to e-mail from MSN Hotmail, the world's most popular e-mail provider. Microsoft still provides Internet access to customers through its recently upgraded MSN Internet Access, ranked number one in customer satisfaction this year by JD Power and Associates.
The hub of the MSN network is MSN.COM. In addition to news and e-mail, it provides services designed to help consumers with everything from buying a car to tracking their personal finances. For example, MSN CarPoint is a leading car-buying site with 1.7 million monthly visitors, and MSN Expedia is a travel booking service with more than 3 million users and $7 million in weekly bookings. MSN also includes MSN MoneyCentral, a personal finance site with 2.7 million users per month, and MSN HomeAdvisor, representing more than 500,000 home listings nationwide for users to browse and search.
The recent enhancements to MSN.COM have made it one of the fastest growing sites on the Internet this year. As of September, more than 40 percent of the Web's U.S. population was using an MSN service at least once a month, according to the Web audience measurement service Media Metrix.
This fall, Microsoft added more services to MSN.COM, including MSN Web Communities, the largest managed community site on the Internet, and MSN Web Search, an Internet search engine based on the award-winning Inktomi technology. Microsoft also recently acquired LinkExchange, the leading provider of services for small businesses that want to market their products on the Web. The LinkExchange Banner Network enables MSN small business customers to advertise on hundreds of thousands of sites at no cost. In addition, MSN customers now have access to the vast array of products and services from more than 800,000 LinkExchange member sites integrated into the MSN Web directory and MSN Web Search results.
Later this year, MSN Worldwide will launch in 24 additional countries and regions, providing local content and key Internet services in the local language to more than 90 percent of the world's online population. With this additional availability, MSN will be accessible to users in 31 countries, making it the most widely distributed Internet online service in the world.
Microsoft will continue to enhance MSN in the coming months, making it even easier to get things done online. "We have learned a lot from our customers about what people want on the Internet," said Laura Jennings, vice president of MSN. "Quality service offerings play an important role in our plans to build MSN into the most useful and trusted network of services on the Internet."
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