MSN Dial-up is an
Internet service provider operated by
United States and formerly also in several other countries.
Originally named The
Microsoft Network, it debuted as a proprietary
online service on August 24, 1995, to coincide with the release of
Windows 95. In 1996 and 1997, a revised web-based version of the
ISP was an early experiment at interactive multimedia content on the
Microsoft renamed the service
Internet Access in 1998, focusing
its main 'MSN' brand on its web portal of the same name, MSN.com.
Today, the company still provides dial-up
Internet access under the
MSN Dial-up' for those who cannot access high-speed broadband.
For several years,
MSN was the second largest dial-up ISP in the
United States behind longtime leader AOL, but very few people in the
U.S. still rely on dial-up.
Along with dial-up service,
MSN provides its subscribers with an
@msn.com email account to use with
Outlook.com and security software
such as firewall and anti-virus programs. It also offers these
extra features as a standalone subscription service for users of
Internet access named '
1 Early history
MSN 2.6 and 5.0
2.1 Version history
MSN 6 and 7
MSN 8 and 9
MSN for Mac OS X
4 See also
6 External links
MSN Classic sign-in screen
The concept for
MSN was created by the Advanced Technology Group at
Microsoft, headed by Nathan Myhrvold.
MSN was originally conceived as
a subscription-based dial-up online service and proprietary content
America Online or CompuServe. Then officially known as
Microsoft Network', version 1.0 of the service launched along
Windows 95 on August 24, 1995.
Microsoft Network was originally presented through an artificial
folder-like graphical user interface integrated into the Windows
Explorer file management program, with a home page named 'MSN
Central'. Categories on
MSN appeared like folders in the file system.
The interface was designed by
Clement Mok and employed high color
MSN was included with
Windows 95 installations and promoted through
Windows and other
Microsoft software released at the time. Product
support and discussion was offered through the
MSN service, as well as
information such as news and weather, basic email capabilities, chat
rooms, and message boards similar to newsgroups. It also offered
access to the
There was debate in the media as to whether
MSN would be an 'Internet
killer', and some companies hedged their bets for the first year,
creating content both on
MSN and the World Wide Web. However, MSN
launched too late to be a real threat to the web. Following Bill
Gates' internal '
Internet Tidal Wave memo', which refocused Microsoft
to be Internet-centric,
MSN began to move its content to the web and
promote itself more actively as an
Internet service provider.
Following the release of
MSN 2.0 in 1996,
Microsoft renamed its
original proprietary online service '
MSN Classic'. Microsoft
eventually shut down any remaining access to the
MSN Classic service
MSN Preview on
YouTube was a mock premiere event, with host
Feature demo in the
MSN 2.0 Program Viewer
In 1996, in response to the increasing relevancy and rapid growth of
the World Wide Web,
Microsoft created a new version of MSN, called
MSN 2.0', which combined access to the
Internet with web-based
multimedia content in a new program known as the '
Viewer.' The service was promoted to existing
beginning October 10, 1996; the general release followed on December
MSN 2.0 with a series of advertisements and
promotional materials describing the service with the phrase, "Every
new universe begins with a big bang." The company offered the initial
release of the new
MSN 2.0 service on a
CD-ROM that it sent to MSN
subscribers in the fall of 1996. When inserted, the
CD-ROM opened to
the ambitious and flashy '
MSN Preview', an interactive video-based
experience that introduced current and prospective subscribers to the
new version of
MSN and described the features of the
MSN Preview was filmed at the Paramount
Seattle and was
formatted as a guided tour of a mock premiere event for the new
MSN. It was hosted by a witty and sarcastic character named
'Michael' who welcomed viewers outside of the theatre and then guided
them through the theatre to meet several other characters, each of
whom represented one of the channels of
MSN 2.0's 'On Stage' area, the
main platform for interactive multimedia content in
A handful of uncredited actors appeared in the
MSN Preview, including
then-unknown actress Anna Faris, who represented 'Channel 5',
which was described as "media, zines, attitude"; it was targeted at
Generation X and college-age members. The preview also included its
own jazz and pop music loop that played during the installation
Once installed, members accessed
MSN content through the
Viewer, which was essentially an animated, stylized and streamlined
interface on top of an
Internet Explorer 3.0 web browser. When members
signed in, they would be presented with several different 'Channels',
which were categories for the various types of content available on
These channels included new services that launched in 1996 such as
msnbc.com, a news website now known as
NBCNews.com that began as a
Microsoft and NBC; and Slate, an online magazine
focused on politics and current events. Both websites were available
Internet users and still exist today, although they are no
longer owned by Microsoft. Also integrated into
MSN 2.0 shortly
after its launch was Microsoft's popular
Internet Gaming Zone, which
Interactive multimedia content was presented in a TV-like format,
MSN shows, as part of the 'On Stage' section. The many shows
and sites included an interactive online nightly game show called
'Netwits', a snarky website addressing women's issues called
'UnderWire', and a regular celebrity interview and web-surfing session
called 'One Click Away'.
These new destinations supplemented other
Microsoft web-based services
such as CarPoint and Expedia, which were branded within
'Essentials'. An additional 'Communicate' section was based around
email, chat rooms (which were branded
MSN Chat and moved to the
IRC protocol), and newsgroups (which were moved to Usenet
from a proprietary architecture), while a 'Find' section was dedicated
MSN content and the rest of the Internet; it also
provided a calendar of upcoming events and new shows on MSN.
The new content made extensive use of multimedia and interactive
VBScript and early implementations of Macromedia
Shockwave Flash (originally called 'FutureSplash') for animations.
MSN shows approach was unique and innovative, the content
was not easily accessible by members with low-end computers and slower
dial-up connections. High-speed
Internet access was not widely
available at the time, and some users subscribed to monthly dial-up
plans that limited the number of hours during which they were allowed
to access the service. The
MSN 2.0 software was also unstable and
would often quit unexpectedly.
In addition to
MSN 2.0's speed and stability issues, existing MSN
subscribers were concerned the transition to
MSN 2.0 would break up
communities that were established via the
MSN Classic message boards
and chat rooms. Their concerns were confirmed when Microsoft
announced plans to close the entire
MSN Classic service. As a result
of all these issues, a website called 'The Official msNOT Hate
Site' originated as a negative response to the new
software. The website claimed
Microsoft patently ignored feedback from
concerned members and censored anyone who spoke out against the
upgrade; it further charged the company's handling of the transition
MSN 2.0 was "insensitive and ethically questionable." Microsoft
denied it attempted to silence those who expressed concern about the
upgrade. The website also mocked the music loop that played during
MSN 2.0 installation process because it repeated the phrase "too
stupid to stop."
Ultimately, the ambitious use of web-based and interactive multimedia
content on the
Internet during 1996 and 1997 proved to be ahead of its
time, and the
MSN 2.0 service was not as successful as Microsoft
initially hoped. The company returned to the drawing board for its
In 1997, after abandoning the interactive multimedia format, the MSN
service was again refocused, this time as a more traditional Internet
access service. With the release of
MSN 2.5 (code named 'Metro' and
sometimes referred to in marketing materials as '
MSN Premier') in late
1997, some exclusive
MSN branded content was still offered through the
MSN Program Viewer, but the service primarily directed members to
traditional text-based websites that anyone on the
access, instead of interactive shows.
MSN 2.5, email service for
MSN members was moved from a
Microsoft Exchange environment that powered email for both
MSN Classic and
MSN 2.0, to standard
SMTP protocols that
could be accessed via any
Internet email program, including
Internet Mail and News, which became Outlook Express
with the introduction of
Internet Explorer 4.0.
MSN also launched
'Friends Online', a predecessor to the
MSN Messenger Service that
allowed members to add each other as friends, see each other's online
presence and send instant messages to one another. Accompanying
MSN Program Viewer in
MSN 2.5 was '
MSN Quick Launch', an icon
inside the Windows notification area. Like the
MSN Program Viewer in
MSN 2.0, the menu in
MSN Quick Launch could be dynamically updated to
guide members to updated
MSN content and services.
MSN 2.6 and 5.0
With the release of
MSN 2.6 in 1998,
Microsoft renamed the service
Internet Access', and the
MSN Program Viewer was abandoned
entirely in favor of the more familiar
Internet Explorer. Another new
version of the service,
Internet Access 5.0, was released along
Internet Explorer 5.0 in 1999.
MSN 5.0 was largely identical to
MSN 2.6, aside from offering the newer version of the browser.
Also in 1998,
Microsoft relaunched its
Internet Start web
portal as MSN.com and began to focus on offering services under the
'MSN' brand name to users of other
Internet service providers.
Building on the success of MSN's web-based email service, Hotmail
(which was acquired by
Microsoft in December 1997), the
Service for instant messaging was launched in 1999. Unlike the
'Friends Online' service bundled with
MSN 2.5 that required an MSN
membership, anyone with a free
Microsoft Passport or
11.61.0064.1300 / April 25, 2017
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and
With the release of
Windows XP in 2001 (which also brought with it
Internet Explorer 6.0),
Microsoft began to offer content for MSN
Internet Access subscribers through a program called
This program is similar to the early
MSN Program Viewer in that it
provides access to
MSN websites, email, instant messaging, and other
content on top of a web browser (an
Internet Explorer shell) based on
the Trident layout engine.
MSN Explorer is similar to
which also has a built-in email client and provides access to content
Upon the transition to
MSN Explorer, email for
MSN members was
integrated into Microsoft's
Hotmail architecture and could be accessed
from the web the same way as any other
provided a user interface for navigating one's @msn.com email inbox
and folders, also known as '
MSN Mail', until the migration of Hotmail
Windows Live brand.
MSN subscribers were upgraded to the
standard version of
Hotmail in 2008, but with additional storage
capacity compared to free
Microsoft phased out Hotmail
and replaced it with
Outlook.com in 2013, but
MSN subscribers still
receive @msn.com email addresses to use with the service ad-free.
Former members can continue to use those addresses with Outlook.com
after ending their subscriptions.
MSN 6 and 7
An early pre-release 'beta' of
MSN Explorer, labeled version 1.1, was
originally included with Windows code name 'Whistler' build 2410,
which became Windows XP. Server versions of the beta did not include
it. The final release,
MSN Explorer version 6.0 (officially numbered
to follow the last release of the older
MSN 5.0 software), was built
Windows XP with its release in October 2001. Anyone who used
Windows XP could choose to use
MSN Explorer regardless of their MSN
membership status. The user interface for
MSN Explorer matched the
visual style of
Windows XP and utilized relatively responsive
animations that would not become commonplace in web browsers until
HTML5 came along several years later.
Microsoft began referring to the
MSN Explorer software as simply 'MSN'
beginning with version 7, an update that was rolled out shortly after
the initial release of Windows XP.
Microsoft halted development of the
free edition of the software in 2002 in favor of a version only
MSN dial-up and premium subscriptions. Versions of MSN
Explorer later than 7.5 require a paid subscription, but it is
possible to use another
Internet service provider while accessing
content provided through the
MSN Explorer software. The last free
version of the
MSN software also remained available for download for
MSN 8 and 9
MSN versions 8 and 9 were released in 2002 and 2004 respectively. As
MSN version 9, the software began requiring a user to have a
Microsoft account, though depending on the version, it may or may not
require an active subscription to other
MSN services. The interface
also includes many Flash animations. Version 9.5 added compatibility
with Windows Vista. Version 9.6 was released in June 2008 and included
revisions necessary for a newer mailbox synchronization technology and
to replace the
MSN Parental Controls menu options with links to the
Windows Live Family Safety feature.
Microsoft began rolling out
MSN version 10 in November 2009, following
the release of Windows 7. Features included full compatibility with
Internet Explorer 8, an integrated spell checker, and the ability to
MSN Messenger from the installation. Version 10.2 was released
in 2011, including photo email integration with SkyDrive (now
OneDrive), the ability to include photos or a photo slideshow with a
link so others can download a copy for themselves, and customizable
toolbar button groups. Version 10.5 added minor improvements to the
MSN software; most notably
Microsoft changed its user agent to
disguise it as a newer web browser in order to bypass 'outdated
browser' warning messages from some websites.
MSN Explorer 11 is the current version, which was released in April
2014 and offers compatibility with
Windows 8 and
Internet Explorer 11,
adds tabbed browsing, and brings back a 'remember me' feature. The
software still included an instant messaging client based on
Microsoft's Messenger service, even though it had been phased out in
Skype since 2013. Subsequent releases of
MSN 11 included
updated email functionality to maintain compatibility with Outlook.com
in version 11.5, and updated logos to match current
MSN branding in
MSN for Mac OS X
MSN for Mac OS X (now named macOS) was a dial-up client interface to
Microsoft's pay-for-access online services for Mac users. The software
was, in some respects, comparable to the
AOL dial-up client given its
channel-based interface, built-in chat and instant messaging
capabilities, parental controls, and ability to accommodate multiple
screen names. It used the Tasman layout engine made for the Mac
Internet Explorer 5. It was discontinued in March 2005.
After the discontinuation of
MSN for Mac OS X,
Microsoft Messenger for Mac software, an instant
messaging-only client that required only a free
Microsoft account for
use. As mentioned previously,
Skype replaced Messenger in 2013.
For customers with high-speed broadband
Internet access, '
is a subscription service provided by
Microsoft that combines a number
Internet services, along with firewall and anti-virus
software provided by
McAfee and Spy Sweeper, into a premium version of
MSN Explorer. In order to use
MSN Premium, users subscribe to the
service through get.msn.com or previously by acquiring
DSL through one
of MSN's partners, such as Verizon or
Qwest (now merged with
CenturyLink) in the
United States or Bell
Internet in Canada.
Microsoft also offered premium services with Verizon through the
Windows Live brand name beginning in 2006.
MSN Premium provided
through Verizon was disbanded on March 1, 2012, and users could no
MSN Premium with Verizon after that date.
Microsoft has extended its
Internet access service beyond
United States since 1995, partnering with various
telecommunications companies to provide service in numerous areas
around the world. A list of international
MSN affiliates is available
MSN partnered with
Bell Sympatico (the ISP division of Bell
Canada) creating 'Sympatico / MSN'. In Australia, Microsoft
originally partnered with
Telstra in 1995 with
MSN branded locally as
Microsoft withdrew from the joint venture the
Telstra went on to assume 100% ownership and rebrand
the service as BigPond. In Mexico,
MSN partnered with
creating 'Prodigy / MSN'. An affiliation with Xtra, Telecom New
Internet provider, known as Xtra
MSN ended in 2006.
MSN has many offices worldwide for national customer support. It
utilizes the service of call centers around the world. Among the
countries are the
Philippines (technical and customer service), El
Salvador (technical and customer support for Spanish-speaking
India (customer service). In 2007,
Microsoft set up a
research and development center for
MSN China, based in Shanghai's
Zizhu Science Park, which hosts technical support for MSN
List of services by MSN
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MSN software and services
Divested by Microsoft
Microsoft Windows components
System Policy Editor
Windows Error Reporting
Alarms & Clock
Fax and Scan
Movies & TV
Windows To Go
Windows Story Remix
Windows XP visual styles
Service Control Manager
Multimedia Class Scheduler
Wireless Zero Configuration
Roaming user profiles
Distributed Transaction Coordinator
Windows Media Services
Rights Management Services
Remote Desktop Services
Network Access Protection
Remote Differential Compression
Print Services for UNIX
Remote Installation Services
Windows Deployment Services
System Resource Manager
Architecture of Windows NT
Desktop Window Manager
Enhanced Write Filter
Graphics Device Interface
I/O request packet
Kernel Transaction Manager
Logical Disk Manager
Open XML Paper Specification
Security Account Manager
Server Message Block
System Idle Process
Security and Maintenance
Data Execution Prevention
Kernel Patch Protection
Mandatory Integrity Control
Protected Media Path
User Account Control
User Interface Privilege Isolation
Virtual DOS machine
Windows on Windows
Windows Subsystem for Linux
COM Structured storage
Universal Windows Platform
Windows Mixed Reality
Backup and Restore
Food & Drink
Help and Support Center
Health & Fitness
Mobile Device Center
Media Control Interface
Next-Generation Secure Computing Base
Video for Windows
Windows Services for UNIX
Windows System Assessment Tool
Spun off to
Board of directors
John W. Thompson
John W. Thompson (Chairman)
Satya Nadella (CEO)
John W. Stanton
Senior leadership team
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Richard Rashid (SVP)
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Digital Crimes Unit
Microsoft Redmond campus
Where do you want to go today?
Where do you want to go today? (1994)
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I'm a PC
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Alcatel-Lucent v. Microsoft
Apple v. Microsoft
Microsoft competition case
Microsoft v. Lindows
Microsoft vs. MikeRoweSoft
Microsoft v. Shah
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Microsoft (2001 antitrust case)
Microsoft Ireland case
The Blue Ribbon SoundWorks
Fast Search & Transfer
GIANT Company Software
High Heat Major League Baseball
Mobile Data Labs
Nokia Devices and Services
Twisted Pixel Games
Internet service providers of the United States
Blue Ridge Communications
Cincinnati Bell FiOptics