As Microsoft Network passed the million-subscriber mark this week, the online service is continuing to inch its way toward the Web--but users shouldn't expect Microsoft's proprietary content to be free once it gets there.
The move to a free MSN Web site will be a gradual one, according to Larry Cohen, product manager of MSN. The company still hasn't determined exactly how it is going to charge for access to the site, only that it will.
Because hourly subscription fees don't apply to the Web, Cohen said, MSN subscribers could be charged on a monthly or yearly basis. "There are issues in billing on an hourly basis, and that is something that we are investigating," he said.
The standard rate for the existing online service is $4.95 for three hours and $2.50 for each additional hour.
MSN will, however, continue to offer free content at its site, such as Decision '96 and live coverage of the Oscars. "I think free content is a great way for people to get a sense of what MSN is all about," Cohen said.
To help complete the move, MSN has hired Bob Bejan, former vice president for creative development at Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, as executive producer.