Microsoft unveiled a remade MSN.com Sunday, emphasizing “premium” content from media partners, along with productivity and personalization capabilities — and answering the question of what direction MSN would be taking after substantial job cuts last fall signaled that the web portal was getting out of providing original content.
The new MSN.com, which can been seen in preview at preview.msn.com, began its rollout Sunday night.
It includes content from media sources around the world; is integrated with services including OneDrive, Skype, Outlook, Facebook, and Twitter; and can be personalized to reflect the user’s interests.
In addition, the company will be releasing MSN apps across iOS and Android devices in the coming months “to complement our corresponding Windows and Windows Phone apps,” according to a a blog post by Brian MacDonald, Microsoft corporate vice president of information and content experiences.
The revamped MSN fits in with CEO Satya Nadella’s “mobile first, cloud first” strategy, in which the company emphasizes services that can sync across users’ multiple devices, even if those devices run on competitors’ platforms.
With the new MSN website and apps, “you only need to set your favorites once, and your preferences will be connected across MSN, Cortana, Bing and other Microsoft experiences,” MacDonald wrote. “Whether it is your watchlist of stocks in MSN Money, your favorite sports teams in MSN Sports, or your recipe collections in MSN Food & Drink, those things will always be with you at your PC at work, on your iPad in the living room, or on your Android phone when you are on the go.”
The new MSN is also aiming to carry out Nadella’s “productivity and platforms” vision for the company.
In addition to providing content, MSN will present “actionable information together with content and personal productivity tools like shopping lists, a savings calculator, a symptom checker,” MacDonald wrote. “Every MSN experience includes features to make users more productive and efficient in what they’re trying to achieve.”
There were rumblings about a new direction for MSN last fall, when Microsoft cut a substantial number of its MSN freelancers, contractors and vendors. It was seen by some as a move by the company to get MSN away from providing original content so as not to compete with partnerships MSN was forming with media companies that could provide their own content. (Indeed, Microsoft is now touting to advertisers the “premium” nature of the publications featured on MSN, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.)
The cuts were also seen by some as a move to steer the MSN team toward focusing on Bing apps, a collection of news, weather, sports and other apps, first created for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.
Bing apps have now been rebranded MSN apps.
MSN currently has an audience of more than 425 million people across 50 countries, according to Microsoft.