Microsoft Corporation will announce Monday that it's MSN Web sites are now the number one destination on the Internet, surpassing former leaders Yahoo! and America Online (AOL). Microsoft, which bases this announcement on its own Web site activity records, will celebrate this milestone with "a butterfly cake, champagne, foam "No. 1" hands and globe beach balls," according to a media alert that went out over the weekend. Executives Rick Beluzzo, Brad Chase, and Yusef Mehdi will be on hand to present the MSN international growth announcement, which will also include over one thousand MSN employees. Just a year ago, MSN was barely registering with Internet users, but Chase says that things have changed. "For us to be \[the leader\] world-wide is very significant, especially over that time frame," he says.

Microsoft says that it had over 200 million individual users of its Internet services around the world in the month of June, compared to 156 million for Yahoo!, which is generally considered the most active Internet site. Responding to criticism that most companies like to use independent third parties to gauge Internet usage, Microsoft says that existing surveys don't cover all of the countries that have Internet access, while its own records are global. When only the United States is factored, MSN is third behind Yahoo! and AOL.

Microsoft's Web sites include some of the most popular destinations on the Internet, including Hotmail, Expedia, MoneyCentral, and MSNBC. Microsoft says that its figures do not include the company's corporate Web site, microsoft.com. Microsoft's once moribund MSN Internet access service is also rebounding, having recently passed the 3 million subscriber mark. Chase says that the MSN Internet access service added over 800,000 new subscribers between April and June