The Everyday Web: MSN’s Role in the New Information World

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 4, 1999 — The Internet was barely a blip on anyone’s radar when the 1990’s began, and five years ago it was still widely perceived as a novelty. But as the decade draws to a close, it’s clear that few technologies have changed the world as rapidly as the Internet. It’s transforming the way that companies and individuals share information, buy products, and exchange ideas around the world.

Recently at MSN Day in Seattle, Microsoft executives Rick Belluzzo, Brad Chase and Jon DeVaan laid out a vision for MSN and the Web that differed markedly from existing Internet services and portals. That vision grows out of the lessons Microsoft has learned in the four years since launching MSN. Originally, MSN was a proprietary online service like AOL; it has also been an entertainment network. Today, MSN focuses on providing its users with tools and information that can help them make the most out of the Internet in work and play. This approach brings MSN directly in line with Microsoft’s core strength: building great personal productivity software that empowers its users with information anytime, anywhere and on any device.

With a series of announcements in conjunction with MSN Day, Microsoft signaled a new goal for MSN: the creation of the
“Everyday Web,”
enabling consumers and businesses to harness the full power of the Web. Microsoft is working toward this goal in three key ways:

  • Combining the power of software and services to greatly simplify communication and commerce on the Internet, through offerings such as MSN Communities, which gives users the power to easily create rich communities on the Web; bCentral, a portal that helps entrepreneurs quickly and easily get their small business on the Web; and the Hotmail Web-based email service, which enables communications from a wide range of locations and devices, including Web browsers and the Outlook Express email client.

  • Delivering ease of use and integration to all sites on the Internet through “megaservices” like Passport, which allows users to create a single online identity for communication and commerce across MSN and other Web sites.

  • Making these services available anytime, anywhere and on any device through WebTV and the availability of key MSN services on handheld and palm-size PCs, cellular phones and pagers.

“One of the things we learned throughout MSN’s history is that people don’t want to be in a controlled environment,”
says Brad Chase.

What they want is access to the full power of the Web, and our goal is to provide that to them. “Getting online” once meant logging into a proprietary online service, but those services no longer meet the needs of today’s users. With MSN, we’re building the best of both worlds: our users have the full power of the Internet at their disposal, but we’re giving them easy-to-use tools and services that help them make the most out of its vast resources.”

There is a remarkable rate of change in the Internet age and the Web’s true potential remains largely untapped. Recent studies show that the average home computer user logs on the Web only once every 13 days and stays online for just an hour. Only a small percentage of the world’s estimated 85 million small businesses are online. The Internet is a huge playing field; and there is an overwhelming amount of opportunity in this space. MSN’s goal is to make it easier for more consumers and businesses to take advantage of these opportunities by providing content and tools that help them create their own “Everyday Web.”

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