Software colossus Microsoft yesterday unveiled its new .Net internet services, which it hopes will attract a massive community of subscribers to challenge AOL Time Warner.

The new services are part of a strategy codenamed Hailstorm, whereby the company shifts its revenue base from software sales to web services.

Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates told a press conference that Hailstorm would give fee-paying subscribers the option of storing personal information such as birth records and credit card numbers online. These details could, if the program was given an explicit instruction, be given to third parties.

The .Net scheme also allows subscribers to access their email, instant messaging, address books, calendar and other online data from any piece of hardware.

Huckstered Gates: “Hailstorm is a key .Net milestone to deliver on Microsoft's mission to empower people through great software anytime, any place and on any device.”

He went on to display prototypes of the service produced in conjunction with American Express, eBay, online travel booking firm Expedia, peer-to-peer web services company Groove Networks and online marketing group Click Commerce.

News source: Financial Times