Ed Oswald at BetaNews:
Microsoft said Friday that it was preparing to migrate its Spaces blogging service to its Windows Live brand, and with the change the company will add new features and tighter integration with other Windows Live services.
Although no specific date for the switch has been announced, sources tell BetaNews the service is expected to debut July 15.
Hit the link for all the new features including social networking enhancements, but here’s the ka-ching part:
Banner ads will replace the current method of using text ads across the top of the site. Microsoft has said in the past that advertising would support the Windows Live service, keeping it free. However, an option is provided to turn off the ads by subscribing to the Hotmail Plus service.
And Hotmail Plus is $19.95 per year. I expect there will be some resistance to this form of monetization which bears an unfortunate resemblance to the old “build your own Web site” services (e.g. GeoCities) and their annoying banners, although the early screenshots at the Spaces blog make it look less intrusive. It also doesn’t help that Google’s free Blogger service has no mandated ads, but offers the blogger the option of making some money with Google’s AdSense contextual ads.