SOURCE: Windows Secrets

January 03, 2008 03:15 ET

Microsoft Charges Customers for Free Services, Says Windows Secrets

MSN Premium Offers Nothing That's Unavailable Free

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwire - January 3, 2008) - The Microsoft Corporation is charging thousands of customers for services that the Redmond company also provides for free, according to an article by associate editor Scott Dunn in this week's edition of the Windows Secrets Newsletter. Users of Microsoft's MSN Premium service typically subscribe to it through their Internet service providers or via a signup page at These customers are being charged needlessly for features that are nearly identical to those offered for free through Microsoft's Windows Live service and the Windows operating system itself, Dunn says.

"MSN Premium customers are paying almost $120 a year for features that they believe can only be accessed via a subscription service," said Dunn. "This is simply not true, as a subscription is not needed to use the e-mail, security, and other features offered in MSN Premium. Microsoft offers these same services elsewhere for free, but the company has never informed its paying users."

In this week's article, Dunn provides a table that lists the features of MSN Premium, with links to the corresponding free software that is available from Microsoft. Some key duplicated services include MSN Mail, virus protection, Outlook Connector, and free technical support, as well as calendar access and photo-sharing capabilities. While some differences do exist in the products, such as increased storage space for an MSN Premium e-mail account and the use of MSN Premium's Web download manager, the paid services provided by the subscription service closely mirror those offered free of charge by Microsoft, says Dunn. Additionally, Microsoft still promotes a Hotmail Plus e-mail service for $20 a year that is nearly identical to the free Hotmail service available through Windows Live.

"It's normal to see companies offering free services to compete with each other, but why would Microsoft keep charging consumers when the company makes such a big deal about its move to free Web services?" asks Brian Livingston, editorial director of

"Microsoft and its ISP partners should be more honest when selling customers a 'premium' subscription service that can easily be accessed for free."

The complete story can be found at

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