New MSN to focus on communication

MSN Personal Message Center will launch next week

Microsoft will announce a new look for its MSN portal site Tuesday, with a greater focus on communication

The site will feature new looks for the company's Hotmail e-mail service and MSN Messenger instant messaging program.

A "personal Message Center" allows consumers to track e-mail messages and instant messenger contacts, as well online chats and communities. The site is currently in beta, and will formally launch next week during the Comdex computer trade show in Las Vegas.

Microsoft is also readying new versions of its chat and instant messaging services.MSN Chat will allow rich-text formatting, as well as support for Netscape Navigator and a My Chats feature that allows users to track chat rooms. Microsoft will also launch a special celebrities Chat section at MSN Live.

The new version of MSN Messenger, which is not yet available, will allow users to format text messages and receive news and headlines. The program will also include a "new mail" counter for Hotmail e-mail accounts.