MSN may have lost a lot of its appeal in the recent past, but it is still among the top 10 websites in the world. It is single-handedly responsible for driving 45% of Bing’s queries. It’s no wonder that Microsoft is still serious about a website, which has been dubbed by Michael Arrington as, “The most popular Internet portal that no one actually ever goes to”. Yesterday, Microsoft unveiled the first major redesign of MSN in a decade. The new MSN will be rolled out to 10% of its U.S. users today and to over 100 million U.S. users early next year. In the meanwhile you can test-drive the new MSN by going to preview.msn.com.
The new design conforms to modern web design practices and focuses on providing a simple and clutter-free experience. The number of links has been drastically reduced and now most of the content is neatly organised into tabbed modules. The biggest change is the integration of Facebook and Twitter. You can view your activity stream as well as publish updates directly from MSN. The iconic MSN logo has also received a facelift. The other major highlight is the inline integration of high quality video powered by Silverlight.
Microsoft has been desperately trying to turn around their loss making online division. The launch of Bing was a step in that direction. Although, it didn’t result in any drastic reversal of fortunes, it allowed Microsoft to gain some much needed momentum. The redesign of MSN is another positive move. The new layout gets its basics right. It is more readable, provides tight integration of local content and highlights various services offered by Bing.