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Product: MSN 8
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.msn.com
Estimated Street Price:

Broadband $39.95-49.95/mo
Dial-up $21.95/mo
 Software Only $9.95/mo or $79.95/yr

Review By: Paul Britton

Productivity Part II

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction & Installation
2: User Interface
3: Communications
4: Productivity Part I
5: Productivity Part II
6:
Conclusion

You might find this an odd section heading for an internet client/service, but I felt that was the best way to organize MSN Calendar, MSN Money Plus, Parental Controls, MSN Photos Plus, MSN Learning & Research Plus, MSN Download Manager, and Favorites.  They all help users achieve tasks on the web.

MSN Photos Plus

Subscribers get an astounding 100mb of online storage here, not that anyone will use that amount I suppose, and there is no visible counter telling you how much storage you have left.  Iím told they are aware of this, and will add one in the future.

So what can you do with that 100mb?  The MSN Photos Plus homepage in MSN 8 is a totally different version than the one shown to non-subscribers.  It has links to access photos on your computer, which launches Microsoft Picture It! Express 7.0 which is included on the MSN 8 CD.  This allows you to quickly access and modify your photos, then you can upload them to your MSN Photos Plus account right from within Picture It! Express.  You can then create photo albums online which can be shared with family and friends.

A new available option for subscribers is the MSN Photos Film Development Kit.  If you donít have a digital camera, and want to get your photos onlineÖthis is your ticket.  It is a new service, and requires a starter kit being sent to you; as such I canít review that aspect of your subscription.

MSN Learning and Research Plus

For all intents and purposes, this is a souped up version of MSN Encarta online.  The homepage for this section offers quick links to the traditional encyclopedia, maps, guides, and what not.  These sections have seen a major overhaul, and they are much easier to access all the great MSN Encarta content than before.

For those dealing with homework assignments, and major school projects, MSN Learning & Research Plus offers the Project Planner in MSN 8.  It offers several pre-designed templates depending on the type of project you have.  You enter a due date, and a title for your project and you are off to the races.  You can enter deadlines for various aspects of your project which will then be automatically added to your MSN Calendar and visible on the famed MSN Dashboard.  ;-)  It will also send an email 24hrs before a particular deadline to remind you further.

MSN Download Manager

This is really slick.  Broadband users may not be jumping for joy at this feature, but dial-up users will appreciate the feature immensely.  Clicking on a downloadable file automatically brings up the MSN Download Manager which will then list the file, and tell you how fast it is downloading, and how much longer you have to go until it is done.  You can quickly and easily remove a file, or move files up and down your queue should you have more than one file waiting for download.  You can stop and start downloads at will should you need more bandwidth for other things.  If you do stop and start downloads, Iíve noticed the download speed and time until completion doesnít always come back on right away.  Your current downloads can also be displayed in the MSN Dashboard so should you close the Download Manager, you can keep an eye on how far along they are.

Favorites

A feature that was really demonized in earlier versions of MSN Explorer for being slow, and shallow; attention has been paid to this feature.  While you still canít (amazingly) export favorites to Internet Explorer natively (there are third party apps to do so), MSN Favorites are now much more responsive, and much more flexible than before.  You can organize your favorites by last viewed, or alphabetically.  You can also add links that you visit most often to the MSN Dashboard.

 ę Productivity Part I Conclusion Ľ

 

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