The Microsoft Network, or MSN, is a collection of services provided by the Microsoft Company. Microsoft initiated the Internet service range in 1995 together with the release of the Windows 95 operating system. In time more and more products have been added to the MSN group just as the Windows OS got improved progressively. The same MSN brand had previously been used for the promotion of the Messenger and Hotmail services in the 1990s. Then, lots of services got reorganized in 2006 when Microsoft reinvented MSN in the form of Windows Live. In spite of the changes, MSN.com, MSN’s Internet portal, maintained its popularity. Actually it occupies a 6th place on the list of the most popular Internet domain names.
As an Internet service provider, the MSN was designed as a dial-up online content provider. It used to provide informational content by relying on an artificial folder-like interface built in the Windows 95 interface linked to the Windows Explorer file management. The most common of capabilities provided by the first form of the MSN included email service, chat rooms, newsgroups, weather info, product support and discussion. Although the WWW space could not be accessed directly through the MSN platform, in time Internet access could quickly be offered through the Internet Explorer web browser from Microsoft. This became available as a download from MSN service as part of the package Windows 95 Plus.
Just one year after its release, due to growing importance of and demand for the Internet, Microsoft saw themselves forced to come up with another version called MSN 2.0, after renaming its existing MSN service as MSN Classic. The new version combined access to the Internet with web-based multimedia content under the name MSN Program Viewer. In the United States and Canada, MSN has been maintained as a dial up Internet provider, yet it comes second after AOL. The MSN service presently includes anti-virus and firewall protection as well as an email account on MSN.com.
The majority of the MSN services received a new name in 2006: Windows Live. Among these services that suffered modifications, MSN Hotmail (now Windows Live Hotmail), MSN Messenger, MSN Search, (now Live Search), MSN Virtual Earth (now Live Search Maps), MSN Spaces, MSN Alerts and MSN Groups were included. With the release of Windows Live, new services were announced: Windows Live Favorites and Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner. This move was simultaneous with the moment when MSN switched to online news and entertainment as well as in the form of a common interest content provider through its Internet portal, MSN.com. Windows Live provides most of the company’s online software and services.