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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

MSN Receives a Facelift

Microsft has not had much luck as a Web presence. Sure, their technical KB and related website is one of the big ones, but that's more because you constantly have to search for how to fix your effing computer! When it comes to MSN, MS' flagship Web presence, things simply have not gone their way.

However, the release - and success - of Bing has changed things somewhat. I got an early invite to Bing and was able to check-out the engine from a Webmaster's perspective before it went live. Unfortunately, I was not able to use it (as a search engine). Still, I did an early review, then drafted it to wait until it went live and - like most things - never got back to it. But I've said, time and again, since its release that Bing is the best search engine out there. It only follows that MS would want to bring this newfound success to MSN and see what they can do with it.

Sure enough, MSN's new look and functionality is closely-tied to Bing. While the revamped site does not go live until 2010, some US users are able to access it now (I'm not one, I'm sorry to say), and this post is based on various reports from people who have seen it, as well as mainstream articles discussing it.

According to this information, MSN is being redrawn into a portal - which is what MSN was in the very beginning. Like Yahoo!, MSN lost its direction along the way, offering its version of other services, such as auctions, communities/forums, user websites, and more. Also like Yahoo!, MSN is dropping a lot of its user-generated and "unique" services (that is, MS' version of other companies' services, functions, and websites) in favor of a more pared-down,
more streamlined look. However, MSN is staying with "partner" providers, like MSNBC (duh) and Fox Sports.

Anyone can access the preview and my first impression is that MSN hasn't "streamlined" so much as just moved to scripts to "hide" the 12390709 functions, buttons, and services it's always offered. Microsoft is infamous for its bloat and MSN became the online illustration of this. Redesigning graphic elements to make them more congruent with Bing's doesn't qualify as an actual redesign. Still, I'll hold my opinion until I actually get to check it out.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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