MSN Spaces Update a Little Bumpy

Microsoft's MSN division rolled out a new version of its Spaces blogging platform on Thursday afternoon, but it was not without hiccups that caused service to be spotty for over a day following its release.

Users reported issues with image loading, as well as some features not loading correctly or at all. Spaces also seemed much slower than normal for many. "The service may be a little slow for a little while it stabilizes," MSN Spaces product manager Mike Torres told users.

The issues, however, did not prevent Torres from listing almost two dozen new features on his Web log late Thursday. Some of the more significant additions include a new search feature, a new advertising partnership that allows users to earn revenue, integration with Windows Live Contacts, larger photo storage space, shorter URLs, and Xbox Live integration.

The new search feature will enables users of the service to search for Spaces based on a keyword, a user's profile, or by popular interest across all Spaces. MSN has added the search functionality to the mobile version of Spaces as well.

MSN will now be allowing American and Canadian Spaces users to place advertising on their blogs through a partnership with Kanoodle. Participation in the feature would be voluntary.

Spaces will also integrate with Windows Live Contacts, a feature from Microsoft where users would be able to receive contact updates. The feature will be added throughout the company's suite of "Live" services over the next few months. When a contact changes their information, the address books of those subscribed to the data would change automatically.

In addition, Spaces is now more tightly integrated with Microsoft's Xbox Live service. This will include Xbox themes for the Space, as well as two modules that can be displayed: the Gamer Card and Xbox Live Recent Games.

"This feature has been the single biggest reason my gamer score is now clocking in at 500 instead of 0," Torres joked.

Other features include the expansion of photo storage from 30MB to 500 photos per month with no megabyte limit, shorter URLs that take "/members/" out of the address, new themes, enhanced commenting and profiles, and book list integration with Amazon.com.

"One of the things not mentioned above that I'm most excited about is the work we've put into the Spaces platform itself which will enable us to innovate faster and smarter over the next few months and years," Torres said. "This is just the beginning of a wave of coolness."

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