Who the hell uses MSN?
So I was checking what time the sun sets in Seattle, when I saw an advertisement for MSN Travel and I had to think to myself, do people really use this stuff? I realize that Microsoft is pushing hard to stop losing out against google in the war to be the ultimate online entity with their MSN Product. But what I don't understand is who would actually buy something from MSN, nor how they plan to execute a business model that seems to compete with a company they just sold more than it does with google's services. Google, although they are becoming scarrily large and sporting a somewhat inflated stock price, doesn't seem quite as targeted to make you purchase things. So what kind of benefits does MSN's portal software offer me, in that case, as a consumer. I wondered this, so I decided to find out.
Stepping into MSN land
I honestly don't think many of the more technical type of people who might typically happen to stumble upon this page would frequently go to a page like MSN.com, so I thought I'd go over it quickly. The first thing you notice when you go to MSN is that there are about five significantly large advertisements directly at the top of the page, underneath the small search box that I didn't even notice was there until the second time I looked at the page. This might say something about their focus, I don't believe it's search technology. The other thing that struct out at me is most of the news seems to be quite obviously syndicated. Keep in mind I mean the brick and mortar definition of syndicated, not the internet version of syndicated. Google News is an aggregator of such internet syndications, linking to many commercial news such as ABC, CNN, but also to some less commercial and lower budget sites such as this article I see on the news page as I write this blurb on http://www.monstersandcritics.com.
Meanwhile MSN's "news" starts with large 300x300 pixel ads, and the News category on the front page links to, not surprisingly, Sports by FOX News directly. So what am I getting out of MSN? That was the topic of the article right. Well I think I just realized what you get, and it's not coined for success of MSN. It's a differen't experience. An experience some of you grew up with, and luckily I did not. It's the experience of television.
While Google seems to plan to conquer the market with personalized content, MSN seems to plan to conquer the market with old fasioned techniques and the Microsoft name. I don't see that happening. Who the hell uses MSN anyway? I know I certainly didn't find it's search results particularly relevant. In fact the #1 thing I noticed about the search results, is it's not blatently obvious where the next page is. The next page is in a very small font at the bottom right, next to the " Help Us Improve" link where I was expecting it to be. Come to think if it, in using MSN for about 35 minutes, I don't think I found a single bit of the experience enjoyable. It gave me the feeling of the early 1990's, when although I loved internet resources such as Gopher, I found opening a web browser to be a painful experience.