MSN Testing Personalized 'Start' Page
Microsoft's MSN unit is testing what it calls an "incubation experiment" of a new "start" page for Web browsers. The site, located at Start.com, serves as an aggregator for RSS feeds and allows users to custom tailor its content.
The project comes as MSN properties struggle to change a lackluster brand image brought on by fast-moving rivals such as Google. MSN employees recently called on users to give their opinions on what the company can do to improve its perception among early adopters and the media.
In fact, the new Start.com takes a number of pages from Google's playbook. Along with being simple and advertising free, the site draws on RSS technology that is popular among seasoned Web users. It also utilizes advanced HTML for customization and stores preferences as a unique URL, much like Google News.
"This isn't a final product but instead is intended to show people some of the ideas we at MSN are exploring around providing a rich experience around Web-based RSS/Atom aggregation," said MSN Program Manager Dare Obasanjo.
MSN Portal Team member Venkat Narayanan stressed that his team is simply "playing around with a number of different ideas" and pointed out two versions of Start.com currently in consideration.
"We definitely would love to get feedback from folks about the site. I'm personally interested in where people would like to see this sort of functionality integrated into the existing MSN family of sites and products, if at all," said Obasanjo.