MSN revamp edges closer, simplification the key

Last month we reported about how Microsoft was looking to revamp its MSN online content portal, including introducing stronger ties with the new Bing search engine.

Kara Swisher reports on her blog at AllThingD that parts of the redesign and refocus will "start to be apparent in the next month" for those in the US and possibly also further afield. The focus will be set on five different content verticals whilst others will be cut back and have a more automated approach.

The news, sports, finance, lifestyle and entertainment sections will be the major verticals, with information from Bing integrated around the site. A source "close to the situation" told Swisher, "It's a decision to make it so MSN does less better." Basically MSN will aim to improve these specific areas and concentrate less on others instead of trying to spread its efforts equally across a wider range of topics.

However, the other older areas will not be ignored completely. The content for them will be less original and instead sourced from different partners in a more automated process, as we have seen recently with various aspects of Bing. Data and information such as product reviews from Bing will also be used. "It is putting a lot of scale where we can compete best and using technology tools to help elsewhere," another source told Swisher. The revamp is being led by former Yahoo! employee Scott Moore.

MSN currently has around 550 million users and is responsible for a fairly large portion of Bing's search queries (through what is known as "convenience search"). "Traditionally, MSN and other portals thought of themselves as internet directories. They have to have 27 channels across (the top of the page) and link to hundreds of headlines. We'll clean that up," Erik Jorgensen, MSN Corporate VP, said in an interview with paidContent last month, also revealing possible integration with social networking sites and automated page customisation.

To see what the new MSN homepage could look like, take a look at the French version of MSN and see how it differs from the old version. The French version features a new user interface with fewer channels and places more emphasis on video content.

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