Microsoft extends its grip
Microsoft is adopting the tactics of AOL to extend user numbers for the MSN access service - and is changing how Internet Explorer looks and behaves in the process.
Reports today said that Microsoft's new MSN Explorer does exactly what it sounds like - combines software elements of IE with content elements of the MSN web service.
So your browser is completly integrated with the Hotmail email service, and multimedia content is handled through Windows Media Player. The look and feel of the software is expected to be much more user-friendly too.
Although the geeks won't like the sound of all this, it makes perfect sense for Microsoft to adopt this approach. AOL remains the biggest ISP anywhere, and the ease of use of its software must be a significant part of the company's success.
Like the .NET strategy, this boils down to providing services as well as making software. Only as a service provider does Microsoft (and a host of other software companies) have a long-term future.