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Microsoft Corp. made Microsoft Network's move to the Web official last week, offering free news content on the Internet while also giving Web users a cut-rate deal to access subscription-only content. MSN News, a continually updated news feed, is available at MSN's ad-supported Web site (http://www.msn.com). Windows 95 users who have Internet access will be able to subscribe to MSN for $6.95 per month starting in mid-May.

Time Warner's Full Service Network will soon introduce its customers to Omnio, a new navigation system that features a help character named Promptu. The Full Service Network will test Omnio in about half of the 4,000 Orlando households that are currently using FSN's Carousel navigation system. Other features of Omnio include a new video-on-demand system that allows customers to select movies by title, actor, rating or director and a "Show Me" button that previews a selected product.

GTE mainStreet and Sony Pictures Entertainment's Game Show Network and Columbia TriStar Television formed an alliance to produce and market new interactive game content across a handful of platforms, including interactive TV, traditional broadcast and cable TV and the Internet. Columbia TriStar's "Jeopardy!" will launch on the Web and GTE mainStreet this spring.

The Alta Vista search engine, from Digital Equipment Co., is gaining in popularity at the expense of Yahoo, Webcrawler and Infoseek, according to results from the PC-Meter survey by NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. NPD found that Alta Vista's share of the 1,000-member PC-Meter panel grew to 8.2% in February from 5.3% in January. Yahoo slipped to 30.6% penetration from 32.4%. Webcrawler fell to 30.6% from 33.2%. Infoseek remained steady at 17.4%. Excite, meanwhile, grew to 8.9% from 7.7%; Lycos rose to 7.1% from 6.1%.

MFS Communications said it will buy UUNet Technologies for about $2 billion in stock. The newly formed company will have a customer base of 50,000 businesses... Forbes went live on the Web (http://www.forbes.com) last week with test sponsorships from Fidelity Investments, MCI Communications Corp., PaineWebber and Honda North America. .. Magnet Interactive launched a site for Tyco Toys (http://www.matchboxtoys.com) that offers toy testing in multimedia environments. .... Poppe.com, the interactive unit of Poppe Tyson, New York, opened offices in London and Hong Kong.

DISCUSSION OF THE WEEK

Microsoft is in the news business. Last week it said it would offer free access to news via its Web site, threatening the livelihood of publishers big and small. Is this fair? Should publishers fight back? Share your views on Ad Age's Digital Media forum (http://www.adage.com/InterActions/index.html). Or send e-mail to IMM Editor Debra Aho Williamson at daw@crain.com, or Associate Editor Kim Cleland at Kimcleland@aol.com.

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