Microsoft glams up MSN home page

April 22, 2009

Microsoft is trying out a series of new home pages for its MSN web portal in an effort to drum up some new — and likely younger — readers to attract advertisers.

The first experiment, launching today, is an entertainment-themed home page, promising news, gossip and videos on all manner of celebrities, in much the same way that many rivals do.

Microsoft’s money-losing online business is hoping to capitalize on the 84 percent of Internet users it says visit entertainment-related sites, building on the 70 million or so people it says already visit the MSN site for entertainment content.

Microsoft sites badly need more readers to lift themselves up from a lowly fifth in the online display ad market, trailing Yahoo, Fox, Facebook and AOL. The company may yet hatch some sort of deal with Yahoo to bolster its online presence.

For now, MSN is planning on going it alone. The new-look home pages won’t replace the standard MSN home page, but they are options users can choose to get more of what they want. More themed home pages will be launched in coming months, but Microsoft hasn’t said what they will be.

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