The Microsoft Network is quietly trying to steal subscribers from CompuServe by mass mailing their current and former customers. MSN has also set up a technical support hotline specifically designed to help CompuServe subscribers make the transition. The move is designed to lure more business customers to Microsoft's online/Internet service. Other lures include Web advertisements aimed at CompuServe subscribers and a CompuServe-like interface in the MSN help section.

"It's a relatively small campaign targeted at people who are CompuServe users," Ed Graczyk, product manager for MSN said. "Certainly it's an acquisition vehicle for us, but we're not running ads in the middle of the Super Bowl like some people."

I assume that's a dig at CompuServe, which ran an ad during the SuperBowl that attempted to get AOL users to switch to CompuServe. The ad featured a group of busy phone signals.

MSN is hot on the heels of its rival, with 2.2 million subscribers compared to 2.9 million for CompuServe. Additionally, CompuServe has had some bad times lately and is losing subscribers already. Microsoft's move is seen by some as kicking a foe while it's down