MICROSOFT LOGS ON TO WORLD OF MAG PUBLISHING

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Microsoft Corp., the world's largest PC software publisher, is now a magazine publisher.

Starting in September, the industry behemoth will publish ad-supported, paid-circulation Microsoft Magazine six times a year.

The magazine actually began last September as an outgrowth of a sporadic newsletter. Since last fall, Microsoft has produced and sent the free magazine quarterly to recent buyers of Microsoft products who sent in a card requesting the title.

But Microsoft's now converting to a paid, ad-supported magazine. It has hired TPD, a U.K.-based contract publisher, to edit the magazine and handle ad sales and circulation.

TPD already produces a Microsoft-owned magazine in the U.K., France and Germany. For the U.S. effort, Sales Director Grahame Lake said TPD is hiring about 10 or 11 people in Seattle and searching for an ad director.

The revamped Microsoft Magazine will be overseen by TPD's managing director, Simon Kelly, and Microsoft executive Jon Ganio, the editor-in-chief.

The magazine will double to 64 pages in September, including 12 pages of ads. A color page will cost $48,974; a b&w page will go for $43,875.

Ads will be accepted from computer hardware and software marketers for products not in competition with Microsoft products, Mr. Ganio said.

Mr. Lake said one-fourth of the September ad pages have been sold but wouldn't identify advertisers.

The September issue will be sent free to 1.1 million customers, and Microsoft may offer new customers free trial subscriptions. But the magazine this fall will begin to shift to paid, though subscription prices aren't set.

TPD and Microsoft also are working on online versions for the upcoming Microsoft Network and the World Wide Web.

Eventually, Microsoft wants to sell the magazine on newsstands.

The magazine targets small-business, home-office and general home PC users with how-to tips and news about new products. Readers can order products directly, but the magazine tries to steer them to retailers, Mr. Ganio said.

Microsoft isn't the first computer company to venture into publishing. IBM Corp., for example, publishes customer magazines, and Lotus Development Corp. once had a magazine since absorbed by PC World.

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