Microsoft plans to all but end its stint as an Internet service provider to Mac users, discontinuing its MSN for Mac OS X software, CNET News.com has learned.
The company plans to notify customers this month and discontinue the service as of May 31, a Microsoft representative said in an e-mail. Microsoft announced plans to get into the market in 2002 and began offering the service in the United States the following year.
"Beginning May 31, Microsoft will make changes and no longer support the MSN for Mac OS X Internet Software client," the representative said. A Microsoft representative declined to say how many people subscribe to MSN for the Mac, but said it is "a small number."
Under a deal from years ago with Qwest, Microsoft is required to offer Internet access to Mac users. Therefore, customers will still be able to buy $22-a-month Internet access from Microsoft. However, the company will not offer any local software and customers will have to log on using the Mac's built-in Internet Connect dialer.
"Microsoft will be in regular communication with its MSN for Mac customers to ensure options are clearly communicated and the transition is as smooth as possible," the company said.
The company will also still allow those with their own Internet access to pay for a collection of browser-based MyMSN services, including 2GB of Hotmail storage, Encarta Premium and Money Plus. In theory, customers can continue to pay Microsoft between $10 and $27 a month for that option.
MSN has broadly shifted much of its attention away from its dial-up Internet access business and into Internet services and content that can be accessed via any Internet connection, and high-speed broadband in particular.
Following Apple's introduction of the Safari browser, Microsoft discontinued its Internet Explorer browser for the Mac, but the company continues to make other products for the Mac, most notably a Mac version of Office. The company reiterated on Friday that it is not abandoning the Mac.
"Microsoft's Mac BU remains committed to the Mac platform and its customers," Microsoft said, noting recent updates to Office and the introduction of a new version of MSN Messenger for Mac.
MSN first got in the Mac business when it agreed to take over dial-up and high-speed Internet access for customers of Qwest. Initially the company offered only a Mac OS 9-compatible dialer program for Qwest customers, but later decided to expand the service and pitch it broadly to Mac users in the United States.