Losing Subscribers: Microsoft’s MSN Premium struggles to compete with broadband-access plans.

Microsoft MSN Premium Review

Microsoft’s MSN software subscription service has partnered with various telecommunications companies for dial-up Internet access in many countries since 1995. MSN Premium also includes McAfee Virus Guard and Firewall Plus.

The service targets families, and features parental controls and lots of content. It’s losing members to broadband-access plans offered by phone and cable companies.

Features

Originally, Microsoft’s proprietary MSN service provided members with content that was accessed via the MSN Program Viewer software. This program offered a stylized, streamlined interface on top of an Internet Explorer browser. This included email, instant messaging and chat rooms similar to newsgroups.

Beginning with MSN version 2.5, email services moved to standard POP3 and SMTP protocols. This allowed MSN members to access their MSN email through any Internet email program.

MSN Premium provides its subscribers with a wide variety of online programs, services and games. Some of these include MSN Messenger, Hotmail (with additional space), Microsoft Encarta Premium, Picture It Express 9, the calendar and more. However, the company has recently begun to drop features from MSN Premium and recommend that paying customers switch to free Windows Live equivalents without upgrading their own offerings. This has made it increasingly difficult for MSN Premium to justify its current subscription price tag. The service also has computer-wide security software with advanced phishing and pop-up guard technology.

Pricing

MSN Premium is reasonably priced for the features it provides. It’s a good deal for dial-up Internet users and basic Net consumers, especially families. You also get lots of extra accounts to make use of e-mail and chat. The software is very easy for novice computer users to work with, which is important when you are aiming a service at families and basic ‘Net users.

However, MSN Premium is losing subscribers to broadband-access plans offered by phone and cable companies. In the future, it’s likely that Microsoft will continue to scale back its paid offerings, replacing them with free Windows Live equivalents. The company has already done this with MSN Encarta Premium, MSN Money Plus, Picture It Express! 9, and MSN Hotmail. If this trend continues, MSN Premium will have nothing to offer that can’t be found for free online, as I described in the Jan. 3 issue of Windows Secrets. Fortunately, you can cancel your subscription without giving up your e-mail address.

Availability

MSN is a subscription software package offered by Microsoft. The service allows you to access premium MSN features on the Web and provides a host of other programs for your PC like Hotmail, MSN Money Plus and Picture It Express! 9.

When it comes to a good online computer package MSN is an excellent choice. It is designed with families and novice computer users in mind. It is easy to use and has a lot of great features.

This is the second time in a year that Microsoft has dropped some parental controls from its suite of paid Internet services. If this trend continues, MSN will eventually contain no services that aren’t available for free through Windows Live and the company’s other products. This is a shame since Microsoft has some of the best tools for online safety and security. It also has outstanding academic resources and tools for simple online pc sharing. It’s hard to beat for the price.

Requirements

MSN Premium is intended to be a family-oriented internet service provider and is very easy for novice computer users to use. It also has some good online applications such as Microsoft Picture It Express! 9 which lets you organise and edit your photos on the PC.

Msn premium comes with powerful computer safety features that assist shield against viruses, spyware, phishing attacks and spam. Its ad-free e-mail software offers a preview pane and allows you to synchronise multiple Hotmail and MSN accounts. You can also customise your e-mail with fonts, colours and special stationary.

MSN has scaled back a few of its paid features in recent times, dropping some parental controls and recommending that members use versions available for free from Windows Live or Microsoft itself. It has also dropped its affiliation with Bell Canada’s Sympatico ISP branded as MSN on Australia’s Telstra and its MSN alliance in New Zealand with Vodafone. It has also ceased its MSN Dial-up ISP service in the United States.

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