RealTime IT News

Spanning the Globe: MSN Adds 24 Countries

Microsoft Corp. said today it plans to launch its MSN portal to an additional 24 countries, bringing the MSN site to a total of 31 countries.

The announcement was made today at a Forrester Research Inc. forum by Pete Higgins, group vice president of Microsoft's Interactive Media Group.

The portals include: Argentina; Austria; Belgium; Brazil; Chile; China-- China/Hong Kong; China/Taiwan; Colombia; Denmark; Finland; Italy; Malaysia; Mexico; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Peru; Singapore; South Africa; South Korea; Spain; Sweden; and Switzerland.

The company said there will be local versions of several MSN services, such as MSN Hotmail, MSN Web Search, MSN Web Communities and MSN Messenger Service, which are scheduled for availability in the first half of 1999.

The global growth plan will be rolled-out on a market-by-market basis, and the sites are to offer local content in 13 languages for a projected 120 million users, or as Microsoft said, ". . . representing more than 90% of the estimated online population worldwide." Microsoft also said the worldwide expansion initiative will more than quadruple its international distribution.

In addition to its U.S. site, Microsoft has services in Australia; Canada; France; Germany; Japan; and the United Kingdom

Microsoft has been trying to play catch up to the other prominent portals, such as Yahoo!, and Lycos, who already offer international sites. Earlier this week Microsoft announced that MSN added 120 community areas to its MSN Web Communities.

"The Web lifestyle is being realized all over the world, and Microsoft is making a global investment to help users organize the Web around people, interests and services that are important to them," Higgins said. "Our goal for MSN is to help people get things done online wherever they are, in the U.S. or abroad. Microsoft will invest in making MSN the most useful network of online services locally and globally."