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AOL, Microsoft rework portals

Both giants revamp their home pages in an effort to dominate the highly competitive portal space.

As the portal race ratchets up to the next level, two online giants today reintroduced their home pages, both with the same goal in mind: to dominate.

America Online and Microsoft both touted home pages they have been working on in an effort to make them more attractive with all sorts of freebies and new design elements.

Microsoft, for its part, took its newly knighted portal effort MSN (named after its online service, the Microsoft Network) out of its beta testing phase. The site features a search engine called MSN Web Search, designed by Inktomi. MSN also has been redesigned to draw attention to its features, which include personalization, free email, news, and games.

AOL, the online leader with 13 million members belonging to its proprietary network, also revamped its site in an effort to make it a leader on the Web as well.

AOL brought some of its products--including its popular paging service, AOL Instant Messenger 2.0--out of its beta phase.

AOL's site features a redesign as well as its home page builder and personalization.

Though both firms are formidable competitors, the truth is that all leading portals--from Yahoo to AltaVista--offer essentially the same goods: free email, paging, personalization, games, and, of course, search.

In fact, many say the portal game will be won largely by the best marketers.