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Microsoft molds MSN for Mac OS X

Microsoft releases a version of its MSN Internet service for the Mac OS X operating system as the software giant scrambles to address the declining market for dial-up access.

Microsoft on Thursday released a version of its MSN Internet service for the Mac OS X operating system as the software giant scrambles to address the declining market for dial-up access.

MSN for Mac OS X marks the first time that the software giant has created a form of its Internet service for that version of the Apple Computer operating system, according to Microsoft. The new software contains features similar to its most recent version of MSN 8, which includes a customizable user interface and popular tools such as a Web browser, e-mail and instant messenger.

Like its Windows sibling, MSN for Mac OS X will be sold with dial-up Internet access for $21.95 a month, or without that access for $9.95 a month.

The launch comes as Microsoft and rival America Online scramble to address the declining market for dial-up access in the face of broadband's growing appeal. Last month, Microsoft reported a 300,000-member decline in its subscriber numbers. While the company attributed the change to the cycling out of promotional and discounted subscribers, company executives also acknowledged that the stagnant dial-up market was not helping matters.

AOL last month reported its second consecutive quarter of subscriber declines. The Internet unit of AOL Time Warner said dial-up subscribers slipped by 289,000 in the United States from the preceding quarter.

Microsoft and AOL have both taken steps to address the growing appeal of high-speed broadband connections. The companies are trying to sell versions of their service to people accessing the Internet through other access providers.