is the latest victim of leaked software
being circulated on the Web.
A preview version of it Microsoft MSN 8.5 is now available on the Internet,
but its content is not being sanctioned by the company. Microsoft is engaged
in a pitch battle with AOL Time Warner
in the market for
the most improved broadband software, and both companies are trying to
innovate their software to gain a competitive advantage over the other.
The unofficial release of MSN 8.5 comes only five months after Microsoft
rolled out MSN 8 amidst much fanfare. Microsoft frequently issues copies of
new software releases to beta testers several weeks, or even months ahead of
official product rollouts. The company takes steps to protect against
pirating and distribution of its beta releases.
Published reports claim that Microsoft will make some changes to MSN’s
e-mail program, which has been criticized for its lack of spam filters. One
change is said to add a small window that will give users more details about
the level of online mail storage, which can often be cluttered with a raft
of unwanted messages. There are indications that Microsoft may add some new
e-mail filters, and will make it easier for users to block unwanted e-mails.
Microsoft is expected to give its MSN users more control of messages from
unknown senders, junk mail purveyors and others engaged in spam. Microsoft
has been widely criticized for its lack of porn spam filters, which many
users have found objectionable.
The new version of Microsoft’s MSN software comes just as AOL is launching a
new version of its own proprietary online service known as AOL 8.0 Plus.
Both companies are struggling to expand the size of their market share, just
as their subscriber bases appear to be hitting plateaus. In that rush to
gain market advantage, both are scurrying to come out with their next
software releases: MSN 9.0 and AOL 9.0.
On March 26th, BetaNews reported that Microsoft was about to provide an
update to its MSN Internet Service with Explorer 8.5 and that a version
would soon be made available for beta testing. The report went on to say that
MSN 8.5 would be an interim release en route to the formal release of MSN
9.0, which will face-off directly against AOL’s 9.0 for shares of the
broadband user market.
BetaNews said that Microsoft recently invited customers to join the MSN 8.5
beta program. The invitation said: “We’re excited to announce our new MSN
Beta program and would like to extend this invitation to you, one of our
valued MSN Internet Service members, to be a potential beta participant. The
feedback from beta participants is extremely valuable in helping us define
the features for future releases of MSN products and services. This
particular beta program is for the next release of MSN 8 Internet Services.”
The report went onto say “MSN subscribers can apply to test MSN Explorer 8.5
by signing into BetaPlace using the Guest ID MSN85Beta and filling out a
short nomination survey. Eligible testers will be contacted by Microsoft
within three to four weeks.”
Then today Neowin.net said that Betaplace.com published Microsoft’s most
recent letter to its MSN beta test users. The letter says: “Dear Microsoft
Beta Participant, Congratulations, you have been selected to participate in
the beta program for MSN Internet Software. You can expect your beta kit to
be delivered within the next few days. The MSN Beta program is designed to
enable MSN to gather feedback from you, our valuable members.”
Microsoft had no official comment on the news of the MSN 8.5 beta software
leak on the Web.