Microsoft Launches 'MSN 8.5,' Preps For 9.0

Watch for MSN to roll out new subscription services for music, e-mail collaboration, spam-protection and parental controls in its next upgrade.

While it ended up ditching the 8.5 moniker, Microsoft rolled out its interim upgrade to its Internet service on Wednesday. Microsoft is billing the updated bits as "MSN 8 with enhancements." Among the updates: More junk-mail filtering; additional parental controls; and new monitoring tools for tracking email storage size and message size.

Existing MSN 8 subscribers will receive automatically the enhancements "through idle bandwidth while they are online," according to Microsoft. MSN subscribers using older versions will obtain the enhancements on a CD, which Microsoft will mail to them. AOL launched its rival interim update, called AOL 8.0 Plus, at the end of March. Microsoft has been beta testing the so-called MSN 8.5 release for several months. Now that the interim updates are out, both MSN and AOL are on the road to launching their full-fledged platform updates that will be geared more toward broadband users.

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