MSN is in the process of revamping the MSN shopping portal, hoping to better compete with Googles Froogle, eBay and Amazon.com, as well as comparison-shopping sites such as BizRate and Yahoos Shopping.
Jim Barr, General Manager of MSN Shopping & Marketplaces, said Microsofts goal is to make its shopping site more convenient and complete.
"Our ability to expose our shopping experience across the entire MSN Network is a strong advantage for our merchants and our consumers," Barr told Microsoft Watch.
The exact launch date of the new shopping portal is not yet public. But the new site will likely launch this summer, according to officials with the Redmond software vendor.
MSN began quietly beta testing the new shopping portal in February, announcing the beta at the bottom of a blog post about the revamped MSN.com site. Around the same time, MSN pulled the shopping link from the MSN Search site.
The initial response to MSN Shopping Beta was largely positive, with testers complimenting in Web posts the cleaner layout, dropdown menus, breadcrumb trails, price range searching, and more comprehensive round-up of products.
Some testers also found that search pages loaded slowly and with incorrect results from limited sellers.
MSN needs to update its shopping site to remain competitive, industry watchers said.
"In terms of their existing [MSN shopping portal] product, its pretty much understood that its just not competing. Ive even heard someone say that its essentially just advertising, rather than a full-fledged shopping site," said Greg Linden Founder and CEO of Findory.com, a personalized news service based on Web crawling technology.