Microsoft, Starbucks team on wireless Net services

Internet and caffeine addicts unite.

Microsoft Corp. and Seattle-based coffee monolith Starbucks Corp. have agreed to jointly offer high-speed Internet connections in Starbucks stores throughout North America, the companies announced today.

Internet access will be made available over Richardson, Texas-based MobileStar Network Corp.'s wireless broadband network, using Microsoft software and its MSN portal Web site and service, Starbucks, Microsoft and MobileStar said in a joint statement. The companies did not disclose any financial terms of the agreement.

The in-store wireless service is expected to launch during the second quarter and will integrate Microsoft's .Net Internet appliance strategy, the companies said. The companies didn't disclose what fee, if any, users would be charged for accessing the wireless network to check e-mail over a skinny latte, for example.

The partnership with Microsoft and MobileStar is part of an overall Starbucks strategy to upgrade its operations, the companies said. Plans are in the works to introduce Starbucks customer cards, which are intended to speed up orders and eventually will allow customers to preorder drinks over mobile phones, the companies said.

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