New MSN Explorer Provides the Most Accessible Online Experience

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 9, 2000 — Users with disabilities who have had difficulty accessing the Web or using the Internet now have a better option: MSN® Explorer is an ideal combination of integrated services and software with a new accessible interface that offers all users an easy and personal doorway to the Web. A portal and browser in one, the new Microsoft® Internet software provides consumers with a simple, integrated home on the Web that helps them get the most out of their time online and be more productive in life.

Built from the ground up with accessibility in mind, MSN Explorer has several features designed specifically to help people with disabilities easily use and grow with the product. Unlike the software of several current Internet services, MSN Explorer is compatible with technology aids such as screen readers and screen enlargers.

MSN Explorer, which is currently available in a Preview 2 version and which will be available this fall, offers simplicity, integration and a rich feature set, making MSN Explorer both a perfect choice for Web novices and the clear alternative for Internet fans whose current online experience isn’t living up to their expectations.

“We realize the crucial role the Internet plays in the lives of people with disabilities, which makes it important for MSN Explorer to be compatible with a full range of accessibility aids,”
said Yusuf Mehdi, vice president of MSN Marketing at Microsoft.
“We are pleased that MSN Explorer enables users with disabilities to take full advantage of the power of the Web.”

The ability to access the Web is of particular concern to users with disabilities. According to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive, the Internet is having a greater impact on the lives of the disabled than on those without disabilities. The survey shows that on average, adults with disabilities spend twice as much time online as adults without disabilities, and more adults with disabilities say the Internet has significantly helped them communicate and socialize.

Accessibility Features Make MSN Explorer Easy for Users to Experience the Web

A dedicated group of MSN program managers, developers and testers worked hard to make MSN Explorer accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. As are many of Microsoft’s products, MSN Explorer with accessibility aids was tested during the development cycle to improve compatibility.

“We are very excited that Microsoft incorporated Lighthouse for the Blind employees and students as part of their accessibility testing,”
said Megan Merriweather, education and employment manager of the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind.
“Our employees and students have a diverse range of abilities and experience with computers, and their feedback helped make MSN Explorer a better product for users in our community.”

In addition to seamless integration with assistive technology aids, MSN Explorer provides the following accessibility features that help deliver an easier, more productive online experience:

  • Keyboard Accessibility. Users without a mouse can still use MSN Explorer. Through a combination of keyboard navigation and activation, the user can select and use the active elements in MSN Explorer. Add an extensive list of keyboard accelerators – also known as hotkeys or shortcut keys — to the most commonly used or most important features, and keyboard access to MSN Explorer becomes efficient.

  • MSAA Support. MSN Explorer has support for Microsoft Active Accessibility® technology, developed by Microsoft to allow accessibility aids to communicate with the operating system and applications through a common interface. Invisible to the end user, Active Accessibility is used by developers of accessibility aids to make screen readers, screen magnifiers and speech input devices work better with MSN Explorer.

  • WAI Compliance. MSN supports the efforts of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Many of the guidelines for user agents were fulfilled in MSN Explorer version 1. MSN will continue to work toward compliance in later versions.

  • AutoComplete. Microsoft IntelliSense® technology is designed to save time and keystrokes. In one of its features, a list of previous matching entries is displayed as a user types a Web address or completes an entry on a Web page. People who have difficulty typing or who use external input devices may find this useful.

  • AutoSearch. Another Microsoft IntelliSense technology implemented in MSN Explorer is designed to improve the search process. Users can enter a search query directly into the address bar edit box rather than the search edit box. Search results appear in the main content area.

  • Conversion of MSN Explorer Menus for Accessibility Aids. Menus in MSN Explorer are drawn in such a way that some accessibility aids cannot read them. MSN Explorer has a setting that converts the MSN Explorer menus, making them readable by a wide variety of accessibility aids.

  • Notification of Interface Changes.

    MSN will occasionally download and automatically install updates to address problems and provide enhancements to the MSN Explorer service. Users can choose to be notified when MSN makes changes that may impact the interface so they can view information about those changes.

MSN Explorer is a unique blend of powerful software and rich services that offers consumers an intriguing new Web experience, whether they use MSN Internet Access or another ISP. The product integrates Microsoft’s award-winning Internet software technologies — such as Microsoft Internet Explorer browser software, Outlook® Express and Windows Media™ Player — with Microsoft’s expertise in Web-based services — including the MSN Hotmail® Web-based e-mail service, MSN Calendar, MSN Messenger Service, the MSN MoneyCentral™
online personal finance service, MSN eShop and MSN Search — to offer users the best possible Internet experience and a convenient home base on the Web.


Availability The Preview 2 version of MSN Explorer is publicly available in the United States only and can be downloaded for free* at

The Preview 2 version of MSN Explorer can be downloaded free* at . The final version of MSN Explorer is expected to be available later this fall. Microsoft plans to release the product in conjunction with the culmination of the larger MSN 2001 initiative that involves significant updates of MSN content and services including MSN Search, e-commerce and communication services — plus major updates to MSN Internet Access and broadband access.

About MSN

MSN is an integrated network of content and services that helps consumers get more from the Web — any time, any place and from any device. MSN is the most popular destination on the Internet, attracting 201 million unique monthly visitors worldwide, and is available in 33 markets in 17 languages — a broader global presence than any other portal. MSN Internet Access is the highly rated, fast and reliable way for consumers to get on the Web, now with 3 million subscribers. MSN delivers The Everyday Web™
experience by providing more than just the basics for new Internet users, with benefits for more advanced users looking for richer functionality. Best-of-breed services include MSN Hotmail, the world’s largest e-mail system, with more than 70 million active accounts; MSN Messenger Service is one of the fastest-growing instant messaging services , with more than 18 million users; MSN Search, the second most popular search service on the Web; MSN Mobile, the customizable wireless information service; the award-winning MSN MoneyCentral online personal finance guide; MSN eShop, the one-stop online shopping resource; MSN Custom Web Sites, the easy way to share information on the Web; and many other widely used services that make MSN a leading innovator of Internet technologies. MSN is located on the Web at .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

* Connect-time charges may apply.

The information contained in this document relates to prerelease software product which may be substantially modified before its first commercial release. Accordingly, the information may not accurately describe or reflect the software product when first commercially released. This document is provided for informational purposes only, and Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to this document or the information contained in it.

MSN, Microsoft, Active Accessibility, IntelliSense, Outlook, Windows Media, Hotmail, MoneyCentral and The Everyday Web are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information about Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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