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Microsoft to Offer Online Tools for Scribblers

All you would-be pundits will get the chance to strut your stuff this fall when Microsoft will introduce new software--code-named "Scribble"--that lets users create virtual worlds for Microsoft Network, the company's online service due to launch August 24.

Aimed at professional writers and novelists initially, the package will let users create Scribbled Worlds with text, images, and sounds. These virtual communities will be a kind of "living" fiction, in which users can wander from room to room.

The company plans to make the Scribble tool available free to the publishing community first, with a general-purpose version to follow.