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Soon, email will be free--with ads

Starting Monday, anyone with a Windows PC and a modem will be able to use email free of charge--if they don't mind ads attached.

Starting Monday, anyone with a Windows PC and a modem will be able to send and receive email free of charge--if they don't mind having ads attached to their messages.

Users can sign up for free email accounts with Juno Online Services. Juno is paying for the those accounts by charging for advertisements that will show up as horizontal ad banners across the top of each message, as well as a showcase ad in a separate window as they connect to the service.

"Putting an ad on a Web site is like putting an ad in a certain aisle of a store," Juno president Charles Ardai said. "Juno's like putting an ad on the windshield of every car that drives into the store's parking lot."

In lieu of a fee, users must provide personal and financial information so that the service's advertisers, which so far include Land's End, Miramax, and Snapple, can target their ads to a user's specific interests. There are no current plans to sell or distribute user information to other companies, Ardai said.

Juno says it has already received 100,000 requests for accounts even though the software won't be available until Monday. The software will provide an address book, customizable mailing lists, storage folders, and spell-checking. To reduce online time, Juno users will read and write all messages offline, then connect to the network to send and receive.

The company currently has no plans for the Macintosh edition.

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Free email on the Net