Microsoft saves MSN from oblivion


Do you know what MSN is? Yes, it is that online portal opened by Microsoft nearly two decades ago. Yes, it is also that default Internet Explorer webpage which you change more quickly than a race car driver can shift. But, fret not if you are not familiar with MSN, as almost no one cares about it anymore. To save it from oblivion, Microsoft has decided that the first thing that MSN needs to make a splash again is a nice revamp.

For many years, MSN was a product Microsoft cared little about. Instead, the software giant has pushed products with more potential and consumer appeal, like Office, Windows and Windows Phone. Now though, Microsoft wants to tie MSN in with its newfound strategy, recreating the online portal "from the ground up for a mobile-first, cloud-first world", and using many Bing-powered services (News, Sports and Travel, just to name a few) to boost its appeal.

MSN can easily connect viewers to core consumer-facing Microsoft services, like, Office Online, OneDrive and Skype, as well as prominent social networks Facebook and Twitter -- this is called Services Stripe. There is also easy access to Bing Search, which sits at the top of the online portal. (It could even work as the landing page for Bing Search.)

The new MSN has got a nice design, which makes heavy use of tiles, which, in their current state, mostly display headlines, images and sources, scores, and stocks. All this information comes, via said Bing-powered services, from major publications like The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde and CNN.

Microsoft is enticing potential users with personalization options, allowing them to use features like a stocks watchlist and recipe collections, as well as topic-tracking. It can be tailored to a certain extent now, and this will likely only improve as Microsoft prepares its online portal for prime time.

Microsoft says that in the coming months it will launch MSN apps for Android and iOS, to "complement" its existing, "corresponding" Windows and Windows Phone apps. And since those Windows and Windows Phone apps once had Bing attached next to their current names, it is fair to say they will get MSN-ized in the near future. Using a Microsoft account, data (from MSN, Cortana, Bing and other services) will sync freely across devices.

After reading Microsoft's announcement and seeing the new MSN in action, I sense that, even though Bing boasts more mindshare, Microsoft appears to be ready to replace it with MSN as the consumer-facing brand. Who knows, maybe MSN's the charm.

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