A new release of Microsoft's MSN Internet service will ship this fall, the company revealed this week, but the new release could mean higher prices for customers. Although a Microsoft representative said the MSN 8 feature set will include "significant new value," the representative declined to give specific information about those features. However, Microsoft is considering a higher monthly fee for its users.
MSN currently has about 8 million customers; market-leader AOL has 34 million customers. But MSN has made strong gains in the past year, thanks largely to its lower costs: The monthly fee for MSN Internet access is currently $21.95, compared to AOL's $23.90 monthly fee.
The inevitable MSN price hike isn't the only sign of revenue-enhancing activities at Microsoft's Internet venture in recent days. The company is enforcing its file-storage limits on Hotmail, its free email service, and is dropping Hotmail customers who haven't accessed their email in more than 30 days. Microsoft now offers additional Hotmail storage space for a yearly fee, a possible hint of Microsoft .NET-oriented services to follow.