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Microsoft's MSN redesign seems less like Metro, more like Google's cards

Mark Hachman | Sept. 9, 2014
With the redesign of its MSN site, Microsoft has adopted a card-based motif that represents a departure from the colorful tiles of Windows 8--and a big move toward the look and feel of its most formidable contender, Google.

What's most noteworthy is how MSN's redesign moves significantly away from the Windows 8 "Metro" style it had previously adopted. In October, 2012, Microsoft redesigned MSN in bright, vibrant colors to echo the look and feel of Windows 8. With the monochromatic, tile-free redesign, Microsoft seems to be admitting that Windows 8's design was a mistake. We'll have to see if other Microsoft sites and properties follow suit.

Useful tools

Under the hood, however, MSN seems a lot more useful. As you might expect, you can tell MSN your interests, and "follow" certain topics. But these preferences also carry over to Microsoft's other services, such as its Cortana digital assistant.

At the top of the page, Microsoft has embedded a "services stripe" that connects to Microsoft services like OneDrive and Office 365, and also popular Internet sites such as Facebook. Put within the context of Bing's social connections to Twitter, Facebook, and more, this makes a lot of sense. 

If you happen to use MSN's Food  & Drink section to read a recipe, too, look for the embedded button that enables you to save the list of ingredients as a shopping list which can be pushed to your phone. Now that is cool. Microsoft said it plans to launch a series of apps (MSN Money, MSN Sports, and MSN Food & Drink) across iOS and Android, complementing the apps it already has for Windows Phone and Windows.

In general, I'd prefer a single, deep, MSN app that includes all of these sections, rather than a number of shallow, narrowly-focused ones. But planned tools like shopping lists, a savings calculator, a symptom checker, and a 3D body explorer might justify the separation.

Granted, the Internet tends to hate all change, especially the look and feel of popular Web pages. Criticizing a preview of MSN's redesign may seem premature, but its glaring departure from the bright, bold strokes it adopted with Metro are telling — and also, sadly, kind of dull.

 

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