Microsoft plans to make a touch-optimized version of its MSN portal available to users running Windows 8/Windows RT and Internet Explorer 10 as of October 26.
Microsoft officials are showing off a near-final preview of that portal in New York during Advertising Week, which kicks off this week on October 1. They also will be showing off new touch-centric Windows 8/Windows RT ads that will be available on MSN and on select Windows Store apps during this week's advertising confab.
The updated MSN portal will be available only to Windows 8/Windows RT and IE 10 users, starting with those in Microsoft's 11 biggest markets worldwide, saidd Bob Visse, General Manager of MSN.com. It will not be vieweable by the public until October 26, the day Windows 8 goes on sale at retail -- even by those who already are running the final version of Windows 8. Consumers using older versions of Windows and Internet Explorer (or other third-party browsers) won't have access to the updated MSN experience for the foreseeable future, he said.
The new portal will have a Metro look and feel. While optimized to be navigable via touch gestures, it also will support mice and keyboards. The MSN logo in the upper left corner serves as a "return to home" anchor for the site.
The updated site will feature MSN News -- the updated news portal featuring AP and Reuters news, along with content from Microsoft's own reporters. (Visse declined to say how many reporters Microsoft is employing now that it sold its 50 percent stake in the former MSNBC joint venture, but that number is estimated at 100.) The new MSN also will feature entertainment, sports and money subsites, like the current MSN portal does.
The new MSN portal site will include tutorials to help users learn how to navigate the new site and take advantage of Windows 8/Windows RT features like "snapping" appications to the side, and making use of the new charms.
"Eventually, we also will offer a MSN Windows 8 app and Windows Phone 8 app, too," said Visse. Visse didn't have a timetable to share as to when those apps will be available.
Microsoft also offers a Windows 8 Bing News app (which is available currently in the Windows Store), as well as the new MSN portal. While both will serve up "news" content, Bing News will be more like an aggregated news source, while the MSN portal is meant to deliver content, but also highlight and demonstrate other Microsoft technologies, like Bing search, Skype, Outlook.com, etc.
Windows 8/Windows RT users will have the option of circumventing the new MSN if they so choose and revert back to "classic" mode, which is what users with other browsers and Windows versions will see.