Huge launch planned for AOL 7.0

AOL Time Warner has embarked on a huge advertising campaign to announce version 7.0 of its AOL Internet.

AOL Time Warner has embarked on a huge advertising campaign to announce version 7.0 of its AOL Internet.

The new software features new AOL-branded services for buying cinema and concert tickets as well as new tools for listening to digital music.

Millions of AOL 7.0 CDs will be distributed through direct marketing efforts, including inserts in US Time Warner magazines such as People, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly. CDs will also be distributed in more than 30,000 retail outlets through the company's distribution arm.

The AOL 7.0 client includes a built-in Internet radio service, dubbed Radio@AOL. The US version will also feature AOL Box Office, a service for buying tickets for films and other events.

The company has also added features in AOL's instant messaging service. Users can now send instant messages to a group of "buddies."

The release of the AOL 7.0 software comes on the heels of a similar announcement from Microsoft. The software giant released Version 7.0 of its MSN software on 15 October. The new versions of Microsoft's Web portal and MSN Internet service software, due for release on 25 October, include several features that compete with AOL's service.

Both software packages come with updated media players for playing and managing digital music and video in addition to expensive marketing efforts -- Microsoft said the new MSN advertising campaign in the US would cost $50m (£35m). Both also include new features intended to push customers towards broadband.

The MSN Internet service is now available to broadband users in the US. AOL said its new software would offer enhanced services detect for broadband subscribers.

Third-party providers, including Earthlink and Juno Online Services, are working with AOL Time Warner to offer broadband through their wires.

AOL 7.0 is available for download in the US from 16 October. Software for users in the UK, Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Japan and Mexico will be available in late 2001.

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