Microsoft is hoping to breath new life into its web portal MSN by giving it a new design and prime real estate on machines running Windows 8. Qi Lu, Microsoft's president of web services, showed off the new design, with colored tiles similar to Windows 8, Windows Phone and the Surface tablet, at the IAB's MIXX Conference and Expo in New York City.
In addition to a new look, the long-neglected portal will be tightly integrated into Windows 8, including home-screen placement on devices powered by Microsoft's new operating system coming this fall. "We, at Microsoft, are completely reimagining the portal experience," he said.
Mr. Lu also unveiled new looks for Microsoft's search engine, Bing, as well as for MSN Money and Bing News, an image-driven news service that owes much to the look and feel of Microsoft's Surface tablet.
In his remarks, Mr. Lu did not mention the Do Not Track feature on the upcoming Internet Explorer browser, which has caused some hand-wringing in the online ad industry. He did, however, restate Microsoft's commitment to the ad business in general and how ad experiences will be integrated into Windows 8.
We are using Windows 8 platforms to reimagine digital surface areas," he said. Some of those experiences are naturally ad-funded. That is why advertising is an important business for us."
Only users of Windows 8 and Microsoft's IE 10 will get the new look, an attempt to stamp Microsoft's look and feel on a world of web services and apps that work seamlessly across Microsoft-powered machines. Mr. Lu said Microsoft is using Windows 8 as a challenge to Apple, Google and Amazon, which are increasingly building vertical systems of apps, services and devices.
Microsoft websites are the second most-visited in the U.S. with 170 million unique visitors in August, according to ComScore.