XtraMSN anticipates paid-for services

The union of Telecom's Xtra and Microsoft's MSN websites could lead to consumers paying a subscription fee for advanced services.

UK newspaper the Independent on Sunday reported in February that Microsoft's UK director, Neil Holloway, expected to add extra services to MSN in that country by the end of the year and to begin charging a subscription fee of up to £60, or roughly $180.

Microsoft New Zealand spokesman Paul Muckleston, who will sit on a planned XtraMSN advisory board, says that while Microsoft is exploring additional services over and above the basic options on offer, there are currently no plans on the drawing board in relation to XtraMSN.

The company is, however, keeping an eye on overseas developments.

"We will want to look at things like subscription-funded services in the fullness of time, but it is a long way off," he says.

"There is no commitment at this stage in terms of if or when we'll do it, but it's an obvious route we can take if there is consumer demand for the services."

Muckleston anticipates that most web companies will require a combination of advertising and subscription revenue.

"If the last few months have taught people anything, it's that business models need to be sustainable," he says.

Xtra's marketing manager, Chris Thompson, says it believes that consumers would be willing to pay for some online application-based services.

"But I wouldn't want to give people the impression that currently free services will be charged for."

Microsoft's Muckleston envisages the company charging for web-based storage and specialised software downloads.

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