MSN Continues to Enhance Aggregator

Microsoft has released a set of new features for the latest refresh of what it is now calling 'My W3b.'

Microsoft Corp. refreshed yet again last week its Web aggregator, to which the company is now referring as "My W3b."

The third version of was released in early June, following a Version 2 release in April, and the initial bits in March.

The most recent batch of updates add tabbed search results, new style sheets, and the ability to close modules with just the "ESC" button.

MSNs aggregator appears to be a competitor to Web portals such as Google Inc.s personalized home page, released in May, and Yahoos My Web, which debuted in April.

However, the MSN product managers dont like to refer to as a portal.

"Its not really a portal … [a portal is] like a list of links, its like a page that you make with a bunch of HTML links, just a jumping off point, we want to take this content that you are interested in and have it as an application," said Steve Rider, one of the two project managers, in a video interview posted this week to MSDNs Channel 9 site.

"One thing that I think is interesting about, the upcoming My AOL, and even My Google is that they focus hard on making it easy for casual users," said Greg Linden, an early developer of Amazon.coms personalization systems and founder of

"The default page when you first go to the [] site is quite good, so you dont have to do any customization at all to find it useful," Linden said. "And doing a small amount of customization is easy, as simple as dragging-and-dropping, helping novice users get started. This is important since competitors like My Yahoo and Bloglines require a fair amount of time and effort to set up and use."

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