Microsoft Corporation announced this week a preview of a new service upgrade designed to strengthen the Microsoft Network's foundation and take advantage of the latest Internet Explorer 4.0 technology. The Microsoft Network 2.5 service upgrade will include a new e-mail system, and various performance enhancements and improved installation.

"This service upgrade includes performance and usability improvements, as well as new communication features, such as an Internet-standard e-mail client. With Internet-based e-mail and tighter integration with Microsoft Internet Explorer, we \[will\] complete our transition to the Web by delivering the first true Internet online service," said Laura Jennings, vice president, The Microsoft Network.

Outlook Express, the new mail and news client in Internet Explorer 4.0, will be incorporated into MSN by the final release of 2.5. Other new features will include the following:

  • Automatic Access Number Update - refreshes the MSN phone book automatically, providing users with the latest information on new access lines each time they log in.
  • Friends Online - allows for "Instant Messaging" between users, including the ability to invite other members to a specific chat room or to view a Web page.
  • Microsoft Chat 2.0 - an upgrade to the existing Microsoft Comic Chat.
  • Online Password Reset - provides members with an easy solution for forgotten passwords.
  • Member Look-up - searches MSN to locate specific MSN members and provide additional screening features against unwanted e-mail.
The Microsoft Network 2.5 service upgrade is currently in beta with more than 50,000 members testing it. It is scheduled for release late this year