Much to our surprise, MSN released version 9.5 of MSN Explorer/MSN Internet Access to subscribers as an update on Friday. The release appears to fix a number of issues surrounding upgrades to Windows Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Live Messenger. The release also introduces Digital Image Suite as a new piece of software to the suite MSN Premium was originally advertised as a benefit.
At launch Microsoft said, “If purchased separately, the services combined in MSN Premium would cost more than $350 a year and require customers to independently manage and update them.” With an MSN subscription, Microsoft also bundles a premium version of Encarta and MSN Money online, Microsoft Office Outlook Connector and PictureIt! Express 9. Now PictureIt! Express 9 has finally been upgraded to the Standard Edition of Digital Image Suite. MSN has updated the core, MSN Explorer, as well as Outlook Connector, but the original suite of software has remained the same until now. Unfortunately, with the update of 9.5, there is no update for Outlook Connector compatibility with Outlook 2007, but Vista has been reported to work fine with MSN Premium.
- New Microsoft® Phishing Filter service helps block known phishing or fraudulent Web sites and allows you to report new sites or provide feedback to the Microsoft® Phishing Filter Web site about potential Phishing Web sites.
- Search now enables users of Windows® Desktop Search to search your PC for images, music files, and documents fast. The new Search bar allows you to search the web Web or your PC right from the dashboard. Includes a list of recent searches on a quick pick list!
This is a big surprise since Microsoft has been so aggressive in segregating services from content between Windows Live and MSN, respectively. However, if version 10.0 comes along, we might see Windows Live Premium/Explorer instead. Microsoft obviously doesn’t want to jump ship for fear that MSN Dial-up/Premium customers might switch to AOL [of course, we think someone would have to be intoxicated to do that]. We probably won’t see Microsoft discontinue MSN Explorer until Windows Live Mail Desktop and other services launch in final versions, since MSN will need to transition customers to the new software. They’ve already set up a way to easily transition Dial-up customers with seperate software, MSN Connection Center.
Most customers have most likely received the update as it was scheduled for the third week of November, according to a Technical Support Representative from MSN. There is an auto-update feature in MSN Explorer, although the software can also be updated manually through Add/Remove Programs. The auto-update will only install MSN Explorer 9.5, other features like Digital Image Suite will have to be updated manually with a 245 MB download. Hopefully updated CDs will be going out soon, they can be ordered at cdorder.msn.com.