Microsoft will release a Mac OS X version of its MSN browser next year – the first time the service will have been made available for Mac.

MSN for OS X competes directly with AOL's Internet service. AOL's service is available now for Mac OS X in the US, and is scheduled for UK release in the coming weeks.

Like AOL, the MSN browser will be made available only with MSN's Internet access service, or as a separate subscription. Reuters reports that Microsoft is revamping the service, introducing better email features, virus protection, image management and Web browsing facilities.

MSN product manager Lisa Gurry said: “The goal is basically to reach a new audience. We haven't had a Mac client broadly available before,” Reuters reports. Pricing information is unavailable.