After the January Effect we spoke about some months back, all has been quiet on the MSN hompeage front for a while now. Today MSN launched a new homepage design for the UK portal. Featuring a new header with a London Eye logo, it is very similar in appearance to the existing Australian NineMSN portal that was tested in beta form at the start of the year.
The new Wave 11 UK homepage now features a sidebar that contains some basic Windows Live Integration, through which users can access Windows Live Maps and their Hotmail inboxes too once signed in to Live ID. Disappointingly none of the links offer any functionality on the homepage itself though, instead redirecting users to the appropriate pages within the various Windows Live services.
In the sidebar there is also a module promoting the main Windows Live services, with Hotmail, Messenger and Spaces included, along with Live Maps and interestingly Skydrive. While it may seem slightly strange that MSN UK is promoting a service that only offers 500MB storage, Skydrive most likely needs to be scaled over the next month or so before it launches out of beta. The sidebar also adds MSN Weather functionality, with users able to pin the 3 day forecasts for upto 4 locations.
The general homepage layout has changed slightly, with a more prominent featured articles section spread across the middle. Additionally the main navigation panel at the top of the page that links to the various MSN services now has a more Windows Vista/Windows Live feel to it. The differing button sizes and left aligned labels should probably be fixed though.
With Windows Live moving towards Wave 2 over the next month, it’s likely that additional countries will also see the new MSN homepage appearing. You can give your feedback on the new design over on the MSN UK homepage blog.
Thanks Jamie and Jon for the tips.