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Microsoft ships beginner's kit

Microsoft says its Internet access kit for beginners is now available in retail outlets for $24.95.

Microsoft (MSFT) today announced that its Internet access kit for beginners is now available in retail outlets for $24.95.

The kit, called Internet Explorer Starter Kit, includes a collection of ActiveX controls from 36 companies, a personal Web server that allows users to share HTML files, and two reference guides. It also includes a list of ISPs (Internet service providers), a trial version of Hellbender, a multiplayer game, and sample Web sites that highlight the capabilities of ActiveX technology.

This kit walks beginners through the process getting online but also helps experienced surfers get the most out of the Internet and ActiveX technology. It bundles ActiveX controls so that the users Web browser can access them locally and save the download time.

The Internet Connection Wizard lets users enter their local area code to access a list of local ISPs. Windows users can get one free month of Internet access by signing up with Microsoft Network or MCI Internet.

Along with Internet Explorer, the CD-ROM includes sample Web pages to demonstrate the features and benefits of each ActiveX control without an Internet connection. Some samples included are ESPNet SportsZone, National Geographic, and InvestorsEdge, which takes advantage of mBed's ActiveX control. It provides financial information in a media-rich environment with streaming and server posting capabilities.

The kit ships with the Beginner's Guide to Microsoft Internet Explorer and 5 Easy Steps to Getting on the Internet. It also includes a trial version of SurfWatch filtering software.

The starter kit is now available in retail stores as a component of Windows 95 or as a standalone product, and is also available for Windows 3.1, NT, and Macintosh operating systems. This consumer kit follows a corporate version released last month, the Internet Explorer Administration Kit.