Microsoft offers free Web hosting

As it has been hinting for some time, Microsoft has made another move into online territory with the launch of a free Web site hosting service that offers consumers up to 30MB of webspace.

The offer is open to any users, whether for a private family site, a public hobbyists site or a business site.

Microsoft has gone with the concept of community (http://beta.communities.msn.com/), and offers step-by-step tools for creating homepages, uploading pictures and establishing online chat.

The service is meant to facilitate "sharing information with friends, families and colleagues," according to a company statement. A site can be public, listed in a community directory, or private, with new members added by invitation only.

The user gets his or her own URL under the "communities" umbrella. However, Microsoft demands some information from those wanting to establish their own Web sites in order to issue the necessary "passport".

The users of Microsoft's free e-mail service, Hotmail, can get the passport without providing additional information.

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