MSN Toolbar (new) – My review

It’s been awhile, but now I’m going to tell you my opinions on the MSN Toolbar. To cut it short, USE MSN Toolbar if you’re an avid fan of MSN content and want the latest info. instantly from your browser. DON’T USE the MSN Toolbar if you really don’t have a thing for MSN content.

So here’s some good points that I could think about the new MSN Toolbar:

  • Very fast and responsive – Like when I press one of the buttons, a small box with some articles headlines comes out in just a second. I don’t find it at all slow, and it’s pretty interactive enough.
  • Live search box – It’s hard to not find a toolbar with a search box included these days, and Live search isn’t so bad.
  • Nice look and design – The look is overall pleasant. I like the way the boxes that pop out are designed with several tabbed categories and a search box that pertains to the content the box is from.
  • It’s free – like most other toolbars
  • Utilizes Silverlight – Though they could probably do more, this is an interesting use of Silverlight right on a browser

What I don’t like :

  • Search button to big – They could conserve space if they made it into Live’s magnifying glass icon
  • Top portion of beveled bar too shiny – I find that the top portion of the beveled bar is just too shiny. They could tone it down a little, or make it just slightly darker again at the very top
  • Live searching opens up a new tab/window – If you use the Live search on the toolbar, it opens up a whole other tab/window. Kind of annoying and you don’t have an option to fix this
  • No customizable buttons – You can’t make your own buttons like you can on the Windows Live Toolbar. Nor choose any.
  • No customizable search – Again, unlike the Live Toolbar, you really can’t customize what search engine you can use.
  • No options panel – There’s a nice help button   but that’s not enough where you can’t change the settings
  • It’s just MSN content – More or less, it’s just MSN headlines in a nice shiny box and toolbar. But it’s still MSN when you go to the site. Most people, including myself, find that the way most MSN sites are designed, is that they’re just plain paltry. Until MSN can design much better looking sites, chock full of great content and features, then it’s not a great pull.
  • IE-only – Microsoft’s "openness" doesn’t show through this toolbar as well as the Live one when working with other browsers beyond IE

Overall, I don’t suggest you download the toolbar. It’s not worth it. I installed it about a month or 2 ago, hid it in the browser, and just opened it again today. You just really have to be an avid MSN fan to appreciate this. I’m hoping Microsoft will update their Live Toolbar with some new and better goodies (though it’s nice and fine now) and make it compatible with other sites.

That’s what I have to say. Here are some screenshots:

  

For now, you can download it from this site : http://beta.toolbar.msn.com/Default.aspx?loc=en-us

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