MSN has today joined the ranks of Barclays and WH Smith in partnering with BT to provide free Internet access, through BT Click.
Available from 8 June, MSN Freeweb is not so much an attempt to woo customers from the likes of Freeserve, as a way of reviving its flagging UK online service, which has seen numbers dwindle in the last six months.
Microsoft said while its MSN customers have been asking for some time for free Internet access instead of the £14.95 monthly charge, it wanted to wait for the right partner to provide the highest level of quality.
"Our research showed that our customers would rather pay for a good service than use a bad free service," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "MSN Freeweb is a the coming together of two well known brands and not just a high street retailer."
Reliable email was one of the top requirements for such a service and MSN Freeweb gives users unlimited email in the shape of Hotmail. With an official total of 35 million users worldwide, Hotmail is the largest Web based email service but the service has often been criticised for slow performance.
Calls to the MSN Web helpdesk will be charged at the national rate, lower than the 50 pence favoured by the majority of free services.
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