Some quotes from the linked articles, and my problems with them:
"We have really focused on making it a useful service vs. AOL, which is focusing on making it easy to use and using Time Warner content," Gurry said. "Compared to AOL, we offer more useful services and a wide variety of content from a wide variety of partners.
"And compared to Yahoo, Yahoo hasn't done an update like this in many years, and we are hearing from customers that their technology is getting old and outdated."
What "more useful services" do they offer that are truly unique? Same goes for AOL. I don't need an AOL account to see what is playing at the theater on Moviefone. I don't need MSN to buy airline tickets on Expedia. How is yahoo any more "outdated" than MSN or AOL? Last I checked, Broadcast.com still worked.
"This is going to be the kind of boost that MSN needs," said telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan, "because it puts them back in the race. But whether or not they can win depends on marketing."
This is just sad. God forbid that the better service actually wins. <sigh>
I fail to see what value something like MSN or AOL ads. They are more expensive than other providers, and offer nothing that is not avaliable from any search engine. Even their respective instant messaging services are available without their Internet service.
Obviously they are doing something right from a business perspective to have the userbase they do, but I still do not see how any change they can make will make them more compelling than a cheaper ISP that gets out of my way and doesn't lock me in to a particular browser/email platform. What actual value to the customer does AOL or MSN provide?