MSN Woos Apple Faithful

After nearly two years since Mac OS X release, Microsoft this week said it has released a version of its Internet subscription service designed specifically for the latest Apple Computer operating system.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant said it is offering MSN version 8 for Mac OS X via MSN dial-up service or as a premium suite of software services they can use with their existing Internet service provider (ISP), whether dial-up or broadband. Microsoft primarily offers its MSN service for systems based on the Windows operating system.

“The Macintosh Business Unit and MSN teams have worked closely to develop a custom version of MSN specifically designed for the unique needs and preferences of Mac consumers,” said Lisa Gurry, group product manager of MSN at Microsoft.

Beyond the usual fare of ISP services, MSN is wooing the Mac faithful with a customizable dashboard that holds tabs to instant messaging contacts, local news and weather, and stock tracking. The service also has “roaming” information, which can be accessed from any PC or Mac to check their e-mail or calendar.

“Our research shows that a significant number of Mac users are unhappy with their current ISP. They are clamoring for a better Internet experience, and we are excited to deliver what they’ve been waiting for with MSN for Mac OS X,” said Roz Ho, general manager of the MacBU at Microsoft.

The subscription, which includes up to nine e-mail addresses, is available through MSN Dial-Up Internet Access for $21.95 per month. Consumers who use another ISP, including broadband, can access the premier communications, browsing and online safety capabilities of MSN for Mac OS X through a separate Internet software subscription for $9.95 per month, or $79.95 for an annual subscription.

Based on the UNIX kernel, Mac OS X has support for FreeBSD v4.4, GCC 3, Ipv6 and IPSec, CUPS (a new printing tech), Open Directory (LDAP) and Kerberos.

The platform is also has the ability to host SMB browsing and sharing, Virtual Private Networking (PPTP) capabilities, Active Directory support and better support for Microsoft Exchange.

After a year of running its “Jaguar” flavor of the Mac OS, Apple said it will announce its latest upgrade of the operating system (code-named Panther) this June.

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