MSN. Again.

Microsoft Refreshes Its MSN Brand

MSN_lMicrosoft’s Web services have always been a moving target. They come, they go and they get rebranded, and their names and the services they provide require some work to follow. There’s MSN, Hotmail, Outlook, Bing, Live, Xbox Live, Windows Live and Skype.

Last month, Microsoft announced that its MSN Messenger service would be shut down in the hopes that users would migrate to Skype for messaging. MSN Messenger, also called Windows Live Messenger, has been a popular service with a dedicated user base established over the past 15 years. The announcement might have indicated that the MSN brand would be phased out, but we now learn that it’s being remade.

MSN is being redesigned as portal, relying on partner content and its own Web services. Content partners include CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. Users will be able to sign in to Outlook, OneDrive, Office 365 and Skype from the main MSN page. A single ID now works across most of Microsoft’s services and devices, and user content will be customized based on personalised settings. These preferences will then be used across all devices with the same Live ID.

Bing and MSN are top global Web destinations (partly thanks to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which uses MSN as a default homepage). According to stats from Web analytics service Alexa, has a global ranking of 12, has a global ranking of 22 and is at number 33. However, these are far behind Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo and Baidu.

Microsoft has been ahead of the curve in rolling out Internet services and has had the foresight to recognise the importance of Web IDs and personalisation. However, Microsoft will need to focus on branding clarity to boost its numbers.