MSN Explorer 8 has just passed the "M0" milestone. The aim is for late spring/early summer 2002 for MSN Explorer 8.0. As of now, the slate of enhancements are truly astounding. This will be the first major release since the original release in 2000.
What is on the list, or already included: New "Dr. Watson" (software that monitors quality of service, and upon any crash reports the data to the Mars Data Center), a totally revamped Mail Center which will be able to integrate with other mail (voice or data!) services (imagine going to one inbox to view email and voicemail from multiple sources. Verizon is currently in testing with Microsoft with this.), revamped media player integration, revamped user tile interface, new screensaver functionality, new theming functionality (how open and accessible the theming functionality will be is not spec'd out yet), new "task-based" templates to send photos/files, and new richer email editing features. It will also integrate with .NET My Services allowing for new roaming and shared calendaring, new personal lists, and much more.
There is work on integrating "natural language" instrumentation...meaning "speaking" or ordering MSN Explorer to do this task or that task. Since this has just started, there is doubts that this will be included on this release. Along similar lines,work is progressing on a consumer (MSN) focused .NET My Services Personal Information (PIM) client separate from MSN Explorer. There will also be a PIM client focused on knowledge workers, and one available for the Pocket PC too.