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Microsoft signs up 5 m. subscribers for MSN

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CIOL Bureau
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SEATTLE: Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced that it had signed up 5

million subscribers to its MSN Internet access service, adding half a million

users so far this year as the software giant aims to turn up the heat on rival

America Online.

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"We are just on a great roll here and this is just another great

milestone that we've reached." Sarah Lefko, MSN product manager, said in an

interview. In February, MSN said it had more than 4 million subscribers and was

adding 500,000 users each quarter. Microsoft maintained that growth despite

scrapping in February a $400 rebate to new subscribers who signed up for three

years of service. It replaced that costly offer with one free year of MSN to

buyers of new personal computers.

Despite the projected by MSN, the firm is still far behind AOL Time Warner

Inc.'s America Online service which has 28 million subscribers. That doesn't

include several million more users at AOL's CompuServe unit. Microsoft is also

unveiling on Wednesday a new version of its MSN Explorer, a customized browser

that includes a built-in audio and video player and built-in links to Microsoft

Web sites like its MoneyCentral personal finance service.

The new software will include features like spell checking and the ability

for MSN subscribers to compose letters offline for their Hotmail Web-based

e-mail accounts, Lefko said.

(C) Reuters Limited 2001.

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