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Microsoft to Launch International Versions of MoneyCentral

[London, ENGLAND] Microsoft Corporation announced Tuesday that it plans to launch versions of its online personal finance service MSN MoneyCentral in four international markets over the next few months.

The markets are France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, each of which will get its own customized version of MoneyCentral. When all four projects have been launched, Microsoft says that 55 percent of the world's online population will have access to the service.

Also on Tuesday, Microsoft launched a public beta its main MoneyCentral site, available at beta.moneycentral.msn.com. It offers new tools, resources and services for people who wish to manage their finances online.

Erik Jorgensen, general manager for MSN MoneyCentral at Microsoft, said he and his colleagues were dedicated to helping people make smart financial decisions online whether they were in the United States or abroad.

"The global expansion of MoneyCentral builds on our mission to help consumers streamline their everyday personal finance tasks by providing the highest-quality financial tools and information available worldwide," said Jorgensen.

MoneyCentral is aimed at people at all levels of experience, putting them in touch with financial tools and information for handling investments, retirement planning, taxes, mortgages, loans and bill payments.

The latest version of MoneyCentral has a host of new features, including stock alerts, portfolio tracking from any of the MSN services, international financial data, wireless access, online seminars and a new context-sensitive "smart" help section.

"The new version of MoneyCentral reflects two rapidly emerging trends in online finance: international expansion and access to information any time, anywhere," said Chris Jolley, Microsoft's lead product manager for MSN MoneyCentral.

Microsoft has identified the four international markets as being ripe for MoneyCentral's expansion, with many users eager to take advantage of an online finance offering.

However, in the U.K. especially, MoneyCentral faces stiff competition from the likes of Freeserve with its UK-iNvest channel, and etrade.co.uk which offers a growing range of services.

One general trend is becoming clear: the world's major online markets are now being far better served with financial information than those where minority languages are spoken or where there are fewer Internet users.



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