Microsoft has unveiled the beta version of its Internet Start portal site, designed to challenge Netscape and Yahoo to be users' first port of call to the Web.
Start, however, is already running late and will not be launched in its final form until the end of the year, rather than September as originally predicted.
The portal site will merge all Microsoft's Web offerings and services. The beta release incorporates free email service Hotmail into the current home page, and features faster response, a slimmed-down design and fewer graphics to improve performance.
Eventually, the paid-for Microsoft Network service is likely to be incorporated too.
On the same day, Netscape updated its own portal, Netcenter with a new design and greater usability and speed.
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