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MSN takes on AOL with TrueSwitch tool

The Microsoft Network (MSN) Internet access service today announced TrueSwitch, a tool that provides the means for AOL customers to switch their e-mail accounts and membership to MSN.

Making that migration easy is why Esaya created TrueSwitch in the first place, said Mark Kasiraja, the company's chief operating officer and co-founder, in a telephone interview this morning.

Kasiraja said he and his partner, Esaya chief executive officer Thomas Isaac, built TrueSwitch to allow users of one Internet service provider (ISP) to change to another without much trouble. MSN is the company's first major customer, he said, although other companies have used it for smaller operations, such as moving employees from one e-mail system to another

He added that the tool could be used for any operation in which information needs to be transferred from one Web-based system to another, and that the company would be willing to tailor the tool to meet each client's specific needs.

The tool, which operates on Java-based machines running Unix, is at its core a data integration, mapping and transformation engine. It logs on to AOL using the customer's existing user ID and password. It then collects all of the necessary information about the user's e-mail address book and account and migrates it to MSN.

The process includes the following steps:

  • Transferring old e-mails and calendar information


  • Notifying all of the user's contacts that the e-mail address has changed.


  • Forwarding e-mail from the AOL account to the new MSN account for as long as the old account remains active.


  • Cancelling the old account.


MSN has also launched a $10m promotional campaign to encourage AOL users to switch to MSN. AOL said it had no comment on the TrueSwitch tool or MSN's campaign.

Kasiraja said that pricing for TrueSwitch is based on a flat licensing fee, plus a fee per user. MSN would not comment on how much it spent on the tool, Kasiraja said that the higher the licensing fee paid up front, the lower the per-user fee.

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