Microsoft launches MSN Premium beta program

MSN Premium, which is targeted at broadband-connected households, includes advanced communication options allowing customers to access their e-mail, calendar and contact information when, where andhow they want it. Rich digital information-sharing features allow customers to get the most out of their digital photo collections; and extensive safety and security features, such as the Pop-UpGuard, help customers have a safe and more enjoyable experience while online. MSN Premium is slated for availability this winter, and MSN will begin beta testing next week with thousands ofconsumers.

“MSN Premium is the first premium service offering for broadband from MSN designed specifically to let customers get the most out of their connected experience through a powerful combination of communications, sharing and online safety features,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president for MSN at Microsoft. “With over 350 million visitors to MSN monthly, many who are broadband-connected, we wanted to create the optimal premium offering enabling them to take advantage of the ‘always-on’ and high-speed capabilities broadband delivers — MSN Premium will deliver significant value to broadband enthusiasts.”

MSN Premium offers powerful and easy-to-use communication services that enable consumers to have universally available access to e-mail, calendar and contacts from any Internet-connected location, using their choice of software, — from a basic Internet browser to advanced clients such as Microsoft® Outlook® — to access their complete information. Deep integration with Microsoft Outlook delivers full personal information management capabilities and the ability to co-manage work and personal information, while the integrated MSN Premium e-mail client provides a rich interface for information management as well as seamless POP3 e-mail account integration and extensive storage options.

Other MSN Premium features customers will appreciate include the ease of sharing digital photos through e-mail and MSN Messenger, as well as shared calendar capabilities to help keep friends and families in sync with others’ busy schedules. While customers are online, they want a safe and more protected experience; MSN Premium provides these safety features, including advanced junk e-mail filters, parental controls, and a Pop-Up Guard for managing pop-up ads. Finally, customers want “smart” information tools to help them access the information they care about most; for MSN Premium subscribers these tools include a dramatically advanced My MSN custom home page, an improved dashboard, and productivity applications such as MSN Photo Plus, Money Plus and Encarta® Plus.

For individuals that only require premium communications, the MSN Plus offering will be available and provides the core communications features, but does not include other features such as parental controls, multiple e-mail accounts, productivity applications, or the deeper level of Outlook integration.

Universal E-mail Access and Enhanced Online Communications

Both the MSN Premium and MSN Plus services offer rich and seamless e-mail creation and management tools similar to those found in Microsoft Office Outlook, in addition to the following:

  • Universal e-mail access. Consumers can access their e-mail, contacts and calendar how they want, when they want, and where they want from a wealth of options, including the MSN e-mail client, Outlook Express, a wireless device, or a PC anywhere with an Internet connection. Consumers also can send and receive all their e-mail, such as that from their broadband Internet access account or other POP3 accounts, using their MSN e-mail client, taking advantage of rich features such as junk e-mail protection, anti-virus protection, powerful management tools, and designer e-mail options.
  • Advanced MSN communications experience in Outlook. An integrated MSN communications experience for users of Outlook XP or Outlook 2003 enables seamless integration of consumers’ MSN e-mail, calendar, contacts, tasks and other information with Outlook. Consumers can see their MSN and Outlook information in one inbox in a variety of views, and easily drag and drop information between the e-mail clients.
  • Extra e-mail storage. Consumers will receive 25 MB of e-mail storage for their primary account so they can keep the e-mail that matters to them.
  • Multiple e-mail accounts. MSN Premium allows members of large households to maintain their own identity by providing subscribers with an additional 10 e-mail accounts, each with 10 MB of storage and the capacity to send attachments as large as 3 MB.

Simplifying Sharing of Photos and Calendars

The demand for sophisticated but easy photo-sharing and -management capabilities is rapidly increasing. New features enabling consumers to easily share their photos via e-mail, the Web or instant messaging include the following:

  • Photo Designer Mail. E-mail remains the most popular way for consumers to share photos. This advanced feature helps people easily create and share amazing photo albums in e-mail. Photos are converted into smaller images for easy sharing via e-mail, but full-resolution images are also posted to the Web for recipients to access if they choose.
  • Photo Sharing via MSN Messenger. Subscribers can share their favorite digital photos with others and chat about the photos using the innovative MSN Messenger 6 service from MSN.
  • Photo Story. This innovative feature in MSN Premium allows subscribers to add narration, music, titles and special effects to online photo displays. Photo Story uses advanced Windows Media® Technologies to retain high-quality pictures and sound while compressing the displays into a file small enough to send via e-mail, publish to the Web or save on a compact disc.

MSN Premium and MSN Plus also enable calendar sharing between MSN subscribers. No longer do families need to consult the dog-eared calendar on the refrigerator to keep track of everyone’s activities or to ensure that no one schedules a family picnic at the same time as one of the kids’ soccer games. Calendar sharing with MSN Premium and MSN Plus enables easy access and coordination of personal online calendars by allowing subscribers to view and merge their calendars with those of friends and family members.

Persistent Protections Help Ensure Safety of Broadband Users

The same speedy broadband connections that provide consumers with lightning-fast access to a vast array of online offerings also can expose them to security risks caused by the always-on connection and increased time online. MSN Premium and MSN Plus provide subscribers with persistent protection from annoyances such as junk e-mail, with the following features:

  • Pop-Up Guard. Created to enable consumers to manage pop-up ads, the Pop-Up Guard providers numerous options, including settings that allow consumers to choose how they want to receive pop-up ads and from which Web sites. Rather than being set to block all pop-up ads, the Pop-Up Guard is built on smart technology that enables consumers to receive the pop-up ads they want to receive, such as those featuring special coupons, photo galleries or online schedules. This feature also helps protect consumers from script attacks, which are delivered via programs that use similar scripting languages.
  • Powerful junk e-mail filters. Using patented Microsoft technology, MSN eliminates almost all unwanted e-mail by blocking most incoming junk e-mail at the server level, and allowing consumers to further block additional e-mail based on their personal preferences. Other features, such as those blocking images from automatically appearing in the preview pane, also help protect consumers.
  • Parental control enhancements. MSN Premium provides parental controls that allow subscribers to block their children’s access to specific Web sites. Based on age-specific settings, parents can set restrictions on e-mail and instant messaging and receive weekly reports on their children’s history of online activities. New improvements include more details in the weekly reports and a summary of children’s active minutes online.

Information Management for Broadband Users

MSN Premium and MSN Plus provide numerous features that allow consumers to personalize their online environment, including customizable toolbars and a new, personal home page. The new My MSN home page can be customized easily by dragging and dropping content modules, providing easy access to consumers’ favorite content and communication services. Enhancements to the dashboard allow subscribers to add a custom photo slide show to their dynamic desktop, access new services such as a traffic report from MapPoint®, and provide Alerts history so consumers can easily see their most recent Alerts. MSN Premium subscribers also get the advanced photo-organizing and -editing tools of MSN Photo Plus, money-management resources of Money Plus, and educational resources in Encarta Plus.

Consumers also will benefit from the wealth of great content that MSN offers broadband users today, including the following:

  • Live-motion video from ESPN on MSN Sports, the No. 1 sports site on the Web, offers video and audio interviews, sports highlights and commentary from leading sports experts.
  • Live video and audio news updates from MSNBC, the No. 1 news site on the Web, include segments from “The Today Show,” “Dateline,” “Nightly News With Tom Brokaw,” “Meet the Press,” MSNBC, CNBC and NBC Sports.
  • Extensive video and audio on MSN Entertainment, the No. 2 entertainment site on the Web, includes movie trailers; music videos, promotional music downloads and MSN Radio service; exclusive interviews, photos and red-carpet clips; TV segments; and interactive online gaming. Content from “Access Hollywood” also is available.
  • Dynamic content and information on MSN Women relates to fashion and style, health and fitness, shopping, and relationships.

Many of the capabilities in MSN Premium will be available to MSN Dial-up customers. Additional capabilities for dial-up customers also will be offered this winter when the new services become available. More information will be provided closer to availability.

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