I admit that i'm prejudiced against the big commercial Internet providers. I've never expected great things from them, and certainly not from the Microsoft Network. But if Microsoft actually delivers all that it wants to...Wow!

For now, the Microsoft Network isn't that different from its competitors, America Online, Prodigy and CompuServe. Subscribers pay $1 to $2 an hour and get the usual special-interest forums, where they can post messages; a commercial zone, where companies as diverse as newspapers and consumer-electronics makers can show off their wares; and chat areas, where people can type at each other. My favorite bit of weirdness:...

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