MSN catch-up : MyMSN Beta and MSN Travel now partners with Orbitz

I’m going to do a quick spin on what’s new in MSN : the MyMSN beta and MSN Travel now partners with Orbitz, and not Expedia.

So here’s a quick look at what’s in the new MyMSN beta. I’ve remarked before how MyMSN always seemed like crud, except for the fact that it had the re-sizable columns feature. Well MyMSN just got a whole new look recently, as well as several tweaks. Here’s the tour.

               

There’s certainly some new changes including:

  • Ad pane – Now there’s actually a Flash ad rectangle sitting in the upper right corner of the page. Just like the MSN.com page. This could be a bit of a downer, considering Live.com doesn’t have any Flash ads on its page.
  • New look – The page looks more like the latest MSN page, and a nice big shiny header.
  • Ability to add feeds – Now you can finally put in some RSS feeds to read
  • Custom pages – MSN has some nice custom pages you can pick from, with preloaded modules. Even a custom theme with it.
  • More themes – There’s a lot more to choose, from the include a neat header and differently shaded modules. This sounds silly, but MyMSN has even more color options that my.live.com, which is kinda sad.
  • MyMSN Gallery – A central place to find modules for your MyMSN page. You can search, look at categories, and it’s as easy as pressing the button. A check mark appears in the spot, and you can keep browsing.

However, it’s still missing or hasn’t improved on these:

  • Ability to create your own module – You can’t make a custom module, beyond RSS feeds. Though you can make some at Windows Live Gallery, and put them on your my.live.com page
  • 5-page limit – You still have a 5 page-limit like you did before. However, on my.live.com, you can get up to 20+ pages. I didn’t try beating the my.live.com page limit.
  • Ad – There’s an obvious ad pane in the upper-right. You can’t move the ad around or anything. It’s permanent. The old version didn’t have that, and neither does my.live.com
  • 3-column limit – You currently can only have 3 columns. The old MyMSN had a 10-column limit (which is pretty huge!), and my.live.com has a 4-column limit.
  • Can’t share pages – You can’t share a custom page or anything like that.
  • Lack of quality modules – There’s plenty of modules, but they can only be made by MSN. There’s nothing too much on the fun side, productivity side, or anything like that. Most of it is just either MSN content, or feeds from partners.
  • Lack of customizability – There’s only so much that you could customize. You can’t customize individual modules, add icons to page names, etc.
  • No support for drag-‘n-drop modules across pages – You can’t drag-‘n-drop modules to another page. Really. That just sucks when you’re customizing.

Overall, MyMSN is better than it’s predecessor, but not by much. Basically, the new MyMSN is just a jazzed up new look, with some new themes, and the additional ability to add feeds. That’s IT. It’s hard to say that it’s better than my.live.com, since they’re both practically the SAME! I don’t know what the heck Microsoft was think about fixing up MyMSN, when "Windows Live Personalized Experience" (aka my.live.com ), does practically the same thing. So does that mean the Windows Live team and the MSN team compete against each other in the same company? It’s really confusing at this point. And I’ll just say that I’ve used tons of other start pages, and my.live.com and MyMSN both can’t compare to the customizability and free flow nature of Netvibes. My Yahoo! comes a close second though. 

Microsoft just needs to get that people want to be able to be free, and allow them to use whatever they want on their services. Looks at sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and all the likes. They’re popular because they do a great job at what they’re supposed to do, as well as integrate very well with other services. They don’t hold any restrictions to what you can use, the type of account you sign-in with, or any of that. Sorry if I’m ranting, but I just don’t get how a company just doesn’t get it and adapt to the way things are changing.

Anyways, here’s some other screenshots:

                                        

Pre-customized Entertainment page.

                                    

Moving around a module (dashed lines!)

                                     

The "Gallery Content"

So next, MSN Travel has recently partnered with Orbitz, and Expedia seems to have disappeared off the site magically. Well, except for a small link right under the Orbitz block. Quite strange, considering Expedia was spun off of Microsoft in 1999. Does this mean trouble in MSN land? Just makes you wonder why they would just stop handing out Expedia deals right off the page like that.

                                                                             

So that’s all I’ve seen that’s really new in MSN.

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4 thoughts on “MSN catch-up : MyMSN Beta and MSN Travel now partners with Orbitz

  1. That Expedia-to-Orbitz deal is quite random and strange…also weird that they haven\’t really mentioned much about it.

  2. @Albert : I know. It\’s just strange for that to pop-up without an explanation. Is there even an MSN blog where they post updates or news? The MSN team can be rather strange.

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