UPDATED 13:13 EDT / SEPTEMBER 08 2014

MSN is back with a Vengeance! Except it’s not working properly, yet.

small__3579944713Does anyone still use MSN? Does anyone even know what it is anymore? If the answer is yes, you might be interested to know that Microsoft has decided to give it a desperately-needed makeover, revamping the site as a one-stop shop for all your media content and personal productivity needs.

MSN, which is an abbreviation of Microsoft Network, began life way back in 1995 as an online service for Windows 95, which incidently makes it a staggering 19 years old! From its humble origins MSN evolved into a kind of home page for Microsoft’s web services, where netizens could access their Hotmail (now “Outlook”), MSN Messenger (now defunct), plus various news, weather, videos and entertainment updates.

Still going strong, MSN is offered in 55 countries and incredibly, claims an audience of some 425 million people – though SiliconANGLE speculates that many of these might just be hapless users of older PCs who still have MSN.com set as their home page.

Whatever the true number of MSN readers there are, Microsoft obviously doesn’t think it’s got enough, hence this revival effort. The new-look MSN, now available in preview mode, combines a mix of web apps plastered across the top of the page with content from top providers like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Yomiuri, CNN and The Guardian. It’s signed up more than 1,300 publishers in total, which makes the new MSN something akin to Google News, albeit with more of a magazine-style look. It also means no more original content from Microsoft itself, which in fairness is probably a good thing.

As for the apps, these can be found in a “Services Stripe at the top of the new MSN page. Here, users can easily access Windows 8 Metro-style apps like Outlook.com, OneDrive, Office 365, Skype, Maps and OneNote, plus popular sites like Twitter and Facebook.

MSN also provides productivity tools like shopping lists, a symptom checker, a savings calculator, and a 3D body explorer. As for the reading material, there are 11 sections in total – news, weather, entertainment, sports, money, lifestyle, health & fitness, food & drink, travel, autos and video.

The new-look MSN

The new-look MSN

Brian MacDonald, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for information and content experiences, wrote in a blog post that MSN has been rebuilt from the ground up, ready to embrace a mobile-first, cloud-first world. “Information and personalized settings are roamed through the cloud to keep users in the know wherever they are,” MacDonald explained.

Teething problems

 

MSN actually looks like a half decent website at last, BUT, that’s only if you’re able to access the preview. Alas, it seems Microsoft and MSN are experiencing a few hiccups, depending on what browser one uses. Naturally enough the site at preview.msn.com works well enough if you’re using its browser (Internet Explorer), but less well if you happen to be using Google Chrome or Firefox.

Like most people who know their way around the web, your humble writer hates IE with a passion and almost never uses it, but was forced to do so when researching this particular article due to ‘errors’ showing up when trying to view preview.msn.com in Chrome and Firefox.

MSN Preview Error

We’re optimistic that this is just a temporary glitch and Microsoft will soon ensure the new MSN works fine for all browsers and not just its own – what with its new mobile strategy of ensuring its software and services works on rival operating systems (think Office on the iPad), it would make sense to get the revamped MSN up and running on every browser by the time it steps out of preview mode.

photo credit: Suyash_ via photopin cc

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