The Giant Plays the Underdog

A new version of Microsoft's online service is as easy to use as America Online--and it's cheaper too

Everyone hates Microsoft, of course. But you have to love it too. Sure the boys from Redmond, Wash., play the heavy in every market they dominate, from PC operating systems to desktop software. But when they're the underdogs, as they are in video games and handheld PCs, they have proved to be scrappy fighters and real innovators. And that translates into better products and choices for consumers.

Now Microsoft is about to release a new version of its online software, in a market dominated by America Online, a division of the company that publishes TIME. And in the process it has...

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