Microsoft Is Said to Shift Strategies for MSN Service

Is Microsoft charting a new course for its MSN online service? Again? [Ed]

IDC, the big technology research firm, certainly thinks so. In a report posted on Thursday on its Web site accessible to clients, IDC said Microsoft had abandoned its goal of trying to overtake America Online as the largest online service. "MSN," the report states, "has adopted a new strategy — to ultimately become a portal or software company, with customers obtaining their own Internet access from any source." The new plan, the IDC report declared, is "a gigantic strategic shift."

The report's author, Steven Harris, an IDC analyst, writes that Microsoft is not touting the plan as new but more as "a refinement of existing strategy." Yet Mr. Harris added in an interview on Friday that a gradual exit from the business of being an Internet service provider is the logical conclusion to Microsoft's present strategy. That strategy, he said, is to aggressively push its MSN software as the Web site portal into co-branded high-speed Internet services offered by telecommunications companies like Qwest and Verizon.

News source: The New York Times

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