RealTime IT News

Microsoft Bringing MSN to Mac

After years of thumbing its nose at Apple's Macintosh OS, Microsoft plans to release a version of its MSN subscription service for Mac users, a move that ups the ante with rival America Online .

Microsoft has already lost ground to AOL in the race to embrace Mac enthusiasts and the latest push to introduce a Macintosh-version with advanced browsing features is a bit of a strategy shift for the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant.

Before now, the MSN service had only been available Microsoft Windows users but once AOL sank its teeth into Apple's Mac market, it was inevitable that Microsoft would follow suit.

Under terms of the pact, Microsoft will release dial-up and broadband versions of the MSN service to run on the new Mac OS X 'Jaguar' operation system.

The MSN for Mac OS X service, which goes live early in 2003, targets Mac enthusiasts in the U.S for software services and communication services, advanced browsing features, free Mac-specific customer support and online safety features. "MSN for Mac OS X will be available for MSN Internet Access broadband and narrowband subscribers and as a separate subscription for consumers in the United States who use other ISPs," Microsoft said Thursday.

"MSN for Mac OS X will allow us to expand the availability of MSN subscription services to a vital and important group of consumers, who previously could not take advantage of the benefits MSN delivers," said Bob Visse, director of MSN at Microsoft.

The push, which was a collaborative effort between Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft and MSN's own Windows development team, comes as Microsoft is putting the final touches on its new MSN 8 service for Windows, which is scheduled for launch this fall.

New features in MSN for Mac OS X include junk mail filtering, and advance e-mail interface, a new browser software and Mac-specific customer support. It also promises online safety features like broadband firewall and parental controls.

Microsoft did not release pricing details on the new service but publish reports say the Macintosh-version will be hawked on the same pricing structure on the existing Windows-based service.

Dial-up users will pay $21.95 a month and broadband customers will pay between $39 and $49 monthly.