Microsoft rolls out a revamped MSN homepage incorporating social networking features such as Facebook and Twitter feeds, and putting its Bing search engine at the interface's front and center. Microsoft's revamp follows Yahoo's own homepage revision in September, as both companies seek to compete more heartily against Google in the search and advertising space.
revealed a heavily revised MSN homepage on
Nov. 4, calling the newly stripped-down and personalized site "the most
significant homepage redesign in over a decade." Microsoft is following
other online titans, such as Yahoo, that have revamped their homepages in the
last few months to incorporate growing trends such as social networking.
In addition to an MSN Butterfly logo, the
new MSN page-viewable as a preview on this site
50 percent fewer links and generally appears less
cluttered than its predecessor.
Other new features include:
with Bing: The new MSN page includes
multiple Bing-powered search bars, each devoted to subject areas such as
Shopping, Jobs, Maps, Movies and generalized search.
Social networking: Facebook
and Twitter feeds, as well as Windows Live's "What's New," can be displayed on MSN's
Video: The new
page offers in-line streaming video, based on Microsoft's Silverlight
technology, as part of its news and entertainment feed.
Local information: The
new MSN page uses Bing to deliver local
information-such as weather and traffic-keyed to the user's ZIP code.
Microsoft is promoting the MSN redesign
as part and parcel of the same philosophy that went into the building of
"We spent thousands of hours talking with customers; testing hundreds
of ideas; experimenting around the world and carefully evaluating what our
users want and don't want," Erik Jorgensen, MSN
corporate vice president, wrote in a Nov. 3 post
on the MSN blog.
His words seem heavily reminiscent of Microsoft's
"I'm a PC and Windows 7 was my idea" campaign, which focused on how
user input supposedly influenced the features and build of the latest Windows operating
According to Jorgensen, redesigned site is also meant to be more appealing
"The simple, uncluttered environment of our new homepage also affords
an advertising opportunity, unlike anything we've offered before," Jorgensen
explained in his blog post. "Advertisers can create a conversation with
customers through engaging, high-performing, rich-media advertising
Microsoft, along with Yahoo, currently finds itself battling Google for
search and advertising dollars. As part of a $100 million "It's You!"
rebranding campaign, Yahoo
recently subjected its homepage to a similar top-down revision,
users to consolidate favorite content and sites onto single user pages, and
adding new functionality to features such as search.
During Yahoo's September launch of that campaign, CEO
Carol Bartz explained a philosophy behind the personalized homepage design that
could just as easily apply to Microsoft's retooling of MSN.
"Advertisers follow consumers, and if you want to talk in sort of the
parlance of advertising, you always need to build circulation," Bartz told
the assembled media at the NASDAQ MarketSite in Times Square.
"By doing this very personalized approach, [we] get really good microinsights
for our advertisers."
Microsoft may very well be hoping that same logic will apply to its new MSN