MSN is rolling out a new version of City Guides (http://cityguides.msn.com/), “one step in MSN’s long term plan for Local”, for 30 US cities to start (Edit: 30 cities will receive customized pages; all US cities will get a new look, but not the customized themes). Some of the key enhancements:
- Modern Site Design: Features an entirely new look with in-line video and customized themes for the top 30 U.S. markets.
- Live Search and Live Maps Integration: Live Search and Live Search Maps integration throughout the site, making it easy for people to explore any location in the U.S. and get easy one-click directions.
- Personalization: Option to create a profile page, using Windows Live ID, allowing users to plan trips, tracks favorites, store Live Search Maps collections and photos and the option to share it all with friends.
- Learning and Sharing: Access to a rich community for users to learn from and share with, including expert sources and reviews from Yelp and Citysearch and the option to share reviews with Facebook friends.
- Planning: Integrated Activity Finder that makes it easy to locate the best a city has to offer, make plans and share them with friends.
Microsoft recently re-hired Cyrus Krohn, who helped start Slate Magazine to lead the programming strategy for future MSN Local efforts. Krohn was at Microsoft from 1996-2005 under Scott Moore, and then left to follow Moore to Yahoo!. Krohn was and most recently was eCampaign Director for the Republican National Committee, but left to again follow Moore back to Microsoft.