The New MSN is Here. Bing Content Apps Re-branded.


That’s right, folks. You have not woken up in the 90’s all of a sudden. In a post on September 7 on the Official Microsoft Blog, officials at the company announced a new preview of their MSN portal. In addition, a big re-branding is planned, where all the Bing apps on Windows and Windows Phone will be renamed to corresponding MSN versions. Finally, these MSN apps will also expand to iOS and Android, reflecting the new philosophy at Microsoft where their own platform is just another platform.

The new MSN

The new site at is a cleaner, fresher and adjusts according to the screen size (“responsive design”). The busy front page is gone and is now replaced with a main “top stories” panel with large pictures along with a few smaller units for other top news.  Of course, there is a big ad space to the right.

New msn main page
New msn main page


As you scroll down, you see the normal sections for content: News, Entertainment, Sports, Money, Lifestyle, Health & Fitness, Food & Drink, Travel, Autos, and lastly, a section for Video. These sections can be moved up or down, or removed completely. Other sections can be added, from the following: Movies, TV, Music, World, US, Tech & Science and Politics.

New msn: Other sections
New msn: Other sections


New msn: Remove or move section
New msn: Remove or move section


Services strip and sections

Along the top, there is a strip of information, with quick access to various Microsoft and non-Microsoft services. This includes email, Office Online documents, OneNote notebooks, OneDrive storage, Maps, Xbox Music, Skype and optionally, Facebook and Twitter. For Facebook and Twitter, you have to not just sign in to Microsoft account, but also link your Facebook and Twitter accounts. I am not sure why this information is not derived from the existing Microsoft account, where at least in my case, I already have a link established to Facebook, Twitter and others. Below the services strip is a simple navigation link to access sections in your page directly and quickly.

New msn: Services access
New msn: Services access


When you mouse over the various services, you get a quick preview of what’s appropriate for the service, like the top 3 emails from your inbox, or recently used Office Online files, OneNote notebooks, and as you will see below, a map of the current location, files and folders from OneDrive, or latest tweets from Twitter.


New msn: Maps dropdown
New msn: Maps dropdown
New msn: OneDrive dropdown
New msn: OneDrive dropdown
New msn: Twitter dropdown
New msn: Twitter dropdown


Bing Favorites

As mentioned above, the Bing content apps that exist today on Windows and Windows Phone are going to be re-branded to MSN. As a first step in that process, the new msn has Favorites from Bing imported automatically, based on the Microsoft account used. So for example, my favorite sports teams showed up as Favorites in the Sports section, my watch list showed up under Finance, etc.

Don’t judge me, I liked the 49ers until they hired Harbaugh. That’s perhaps because I like USC and he has a history when he was at Stanford with the then USC coach whom I liked. And that’s going to explain why I like the Seahawks :-)


New msn: Favorites imported from Bing
New msn: Favorites imported from Bing


Actionable items

In addition to serving content from a variety of sources, the new msn also includes sections where you can gain some actionable insights. For example, there is a symptom checker in Health & Fitness, as well as a 3D Human Body in the same section.


New msn: 3D Human Body
New msn: 3D Human Body
New msn: Symptom checker
New msn: Symptom checker


Top-tier sources and iOS/Android

Per the announcement, the content on the new msn comes from a variety of top-tier sources.

We’ve partnered with the world’s best to deliver on this goal:

  • In the US, some of our premier partners include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, AOL (including TechCrunch and Huffington Post) and Condé Nast (including Vanity Fair, Epicurious, Bon Appétit).

  • Worldwide, we’re excited to include The Yomiuri Shimbun and The Asahi Shimbun in Japan; Sky News, The Guardian and the Telegraph in the UK, NDTV and Hindustan Times in India, Le Figaro and Le Monde in France, and many more.

Along with the new preview, Microsoft is also preparing to launch iOS and Android apps like the ones that exist on Windows and Windows Phone. These iOS and Android apps will roam Favorites and keep content in sync much like the connectedness of Windows and Windows Phone apps. This way, Microsoft is ensuring that no matter which device you use at any time of the day, you have the premier experience with consuming and using the msn content.

I like the new msn, except for the brand name itself. I am not sure the negativity around “msn” is as much as it is around “Internet Explorer” and we know how badly Microsoft and IE teams are trying to paint a brighter image of the latter. It is unclear why the “msn” brand is the one that Microsoft chose to continue with rather than coming up with a new brand or reusing the Bing brand. In any case, time will tell if the branding is right or not.

Have you set as your home page?

Canonical Launching A Ubuntu Developer Portal – Can It Attract Developers?

There is no doubt about the plans Mark Shuttleworth has for Ubuntu (see Bug #1), but this should come as a pleasant surprise to many – Canonical is launching a Ubuntu Developer Portal. This shows that Canonical is planning to market Ubuntu as a viable platform for application developers. They already have the Ubuntu Software Center, which supports paid applications from Ubuntu 10.10, as a platform to sell the applications.

Right now the portal is under construction. But there are already a lot of pages to explore. The Create section introduces potential developers to Ubuntu as a platform and the tools that can be used to develop. It also has an introduction to Quickly, which combines project creation, code editing, GUI editing, running and debugging, as well as packaging and sharing via, all in one easy to use command line interface.

The portal also includes other sections such as Develop, Collaborate, Publish, Reference, Support and Manual. Except Reference and Manual, all the other sections have some sort of contents. Instead of me writing about them, I will leave it to you to explore them if  you want. You can see the portal at

Now, this raises the question if Ubuntu can become a platform which can attract developers. The answer to that question boils down to one thing – money. If they can make money from Ubuntu, developers will come. Sure many developers contribute to Ubuntu on their own without any pay, but if there is money involved companies/developers with commercial interest will get involved as well – and that is not always a bad thing.

In the past, contrary to popular perception, Linux users have demonstrated that they are not against paying for software. For example in the Humble Indie Bundle #2, Linux users paid on an average $13.77 which is far greater than the $6.68 and $9.27 paid by Windows and Mac users. The total contribution from Linux users was almost the same as that of Mac users.

Yes, this is just one example. But it shows that Linux users do pay – and they pay well – for quality free (as in freedom, not beer) software. So, I believe the Ubuntu Developer Platform can succeed if implemented right.

[source: Ubuntu Forecast]

Reliance Launches Mobile Data Portal For 3G Services

Reliance Communications is gearing for the upcoming 3G wave in India and for this it has launched a new mobile data portal called R World. The portal will provide users with a complete 3G end-to-end mobile Internet and data services to 120 million Reliance mobile subscribers. The portal is powered by Motricity’s mCore platform.

With R World, users can access their email (Gmail, Windows Live, Ovi Mail) and social networks (Facebook, Twitter) with one login thus keeping the users out of hassles to re-enter different passwords and user IDs over and over again. R-World has a RSS reader using which users can browse through feeds and add them to their home page and get the most relevant news, sports and content.

Reliance Communications has secured 3G spectrum rights in 13 circles which include the metros Delhi and Mumbai and some cities in the category ‘C’ circle and plans to launch 3G services by the end of December this year. R-World for 3G will definitely help Reliance mobile subscribers to get started with 3G.

via TelecomTalk

Steam Officially Available for the Mac, Portal Available for Free

Yes folks, the day all you Mac fans were waiting for has arrived. Steam, Valve’s digital distribution platform is now officially available for the Mac.
After much speculation & teasing and a Beta phase, Steam was finally available today, about a month’s delay from the original intended release date. Although the launch titles are just 3 – namely Torchlight, Portal & Football Manager 2010 – Valve has maintained that they will add new games to the Mac gaming catalog every Wednesday.

And oh, in case you’re wondering, if you’ve already purchased the games for Windows, using Steam Play you can re-download the Mac versions of the games and continue playing your games using the Steam Cloud feature, which sync save games across multiple systems. In case you haven’t purchased any of those, do note that Portal is available for free till the 24th [ yay! ] and Torchlight is at 50% off. So what’re you waiting for ? Go get ’em!

Gaming Friday: Valve Games on Mac, PlayStation Move And Lot More

It has been one heck of a week for gaming enthusiasts – let’s have a quick recap on what’s been going on.

  • Ubisoft’s servers DRM servers, which are used to authenticate games like Assassin’s Creed II went down, rendering all legit users copies useless as they were unable to play the game. Ubisoft was quick to point out that the servers were down because of hackers – like paying customers are going to give a damn about why they aren’t able to play a $60 single player game without an Internet connection.
  • Mac gamers were delighted when Valve announced that all of their Source engine games, including Portal 2 would be ported over to the Mac. Pretty certain Mac gamers went ballistic after Valve’s confirmation that existing   owners will not have to purchase the games again, and the games would be native to Mac, and not emulated crap.
  • OnLive, the online gaming service which allows you to play games similar to how you can stream movies using Netflix or Hulu, announced that their service would go live on June 15.   If you have a good enough Internet connection and the $15 per month fee plus additional fees for actually owning/renting the game   doesn’t deter you, then OnLive just might be a good option.
  • Sony finally realizes that motion controlled gaming is the “in” thing, and introduces us to a rather silly named contraption, the PlayStation Move.
  • Palm announced that the awesome Unreal Engine 3 has been ported over to webOS. Wonder if will boost Palm’s fortunes significantly.
  • To round off, Steam has been having an Eidos Square Enix Deals week, and on the final day we have Batman: Arkham Asylum and Just Cause on sale at 50% off for individual games, and at 66% off for the full collection.

Happy gaming weekend, everyone!

Portal 2 for Mac Confirmed

Portal, the short but extremely brilliant and critically acclaimed shooter, will be out for the Mac, in addition to the PC release. The confirmation of this news comes via image scans of the latest edition of GameInformer magazine as reported on Macrumours, which features Portal 2 as the cover story.

Portal 2

Since the past couple of days, Valve had been hinting Portal’s imminent release for the Mac via teaser images which closely resemble Apple’s cult advertisements.

The hints were further boosted by a beta version of Steam ( Steam is Valve’s digital delivery and content management platform), which moved away from IE’s rendering engine to a Webkit based rendering engine, dumping the platform specific lockdown. Some enterprising folks had found OS X menu components in the Steam file directory, further providing proof of Portal 2 and Steam heading to the Mac.

For those living under a rock, Portal is an FPS game where the player must solve a series of puzzles by teleporting using what is known as the portal gun. The player is continuously egged-on by a voice-over AI, known as GLaDOS. Upon completion of the puzzles,   the user said to be rewarded with a cake .

Are you excited about Portal 2 coming for the Mac ? How many of you have played the original Portal ? Do drop a comment and let us know.