Microsoft's MSN 8.0, the latest upgrade to its internet access software is due for launch in the US on 24 October. This latest version will also see some users paying for the service for the first time, as it transforms from a free to a subscription-based service.
The service, which is due to hit UK shores in January 2003, will cost American customers who do not access the web via Microsoft's MSN internet service $9.95 (£6) a month, or $79.95 (£51) per year.
MSN 8.0 will be available for free to subscribers of Microsoft's MSN internet service. UK pricing will be announced at the time of launch, but Microsoft has confirmed that it will be a subscription-based service here too.
The monthly fee includes access to services available through the internet access software, such as photo editing and photo sharing, personal finance services through MSN Money, and a new email service that blends features from Hotmail and its Outlook Express desktop product.
MSN 8.0 also promises to have more advanced parental control features compared to previous editions. For example, parents will be able to limit who their kids exchange emails with and who they chat with over MSN Messenger.
The new pricing plan brings the company closer to AOL Time Warner, which charges users for premium services available through America Online. Also similar to AOL, Microsoft will distribute MSN 8.0 on a free disc, charging users only when they sign up for service.