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MSN Launches 120 Communities

Microsoft Corp. today announced the preview of 120 Web communities on its portal site, MSN.

Slated to officially launch later this fall on MSN.com, users can see a preview of the areas at MSN Web Communities. It is scheduled to launch on MSN.COM later this fall. Microsoft said the Web Communities rolled out today include almost 70 forums that were previously only available only to subscribers of MSN Internet Access.

In addition, 50 existing communities are featured from other MSN services, such as the Microsoft Expedia.com travel service, Microsoft Investor and the Computing Central. The communities have been redesigned for a new look and are aggregated in one area on MSN.COM. Each Community is managed by an online community manager.

Microsoft said the Web Communities provide topical information and links to newsgroups, user-created chats and monitored chats in the 120 sections, which it said makes the MSN Network of Internet Services area one of the largest Web-based chat networks.

Microsoft has been taken to task by critics who note the Redmond, WA-based giant is late in the portal game, and faces intense competition against Internet leaders such as Yahoo!, Lycos, Excite, and community-oriented GeoCities. But backed by a positive cash flow and intense marketing, the company may catch up to competitors.

The company said features and functionality will continue to be enhanced during the coming months. Next year MSN said it expects to allow users to create and manage their own communities, something sites such as GeoCities, and more recently Excite, Lycos and Yahoo! already offer.

"Providing high-quality managed communities is essential to a great customer experience and the continued success of our network," said Laura Jennings, vice president of MSN. "MSN Web Communities will help our customers more easily exchange important information, stay better informed and ultimately get more done."