Well the results have been live for the most part for a couple of weeks or so, but its now completely 100% official. The new MSN search engine has been announced and to go along with it the MSN homepage now has a new look and layout. Here’s a screenshot of the new layout:
You can even change the background color if you want (to white) with a quick click on the link in the upper left. Personally, I prefer the white – more spacious and less confining…
Let’s take a look at what this new design has brought to the table:
- Designates more space for the search box and MSN Search feature in general
- Entire site is center-aligned instead of left-aligned as it was before
- More of a boxy, simply feel than before – yielding faster download times
- “Sign In” link not branded as .Net Passport (old version had the logo on the homepage)
- SN Desktop Search (Beta)
They even slightly changed the lighting of the blue background on the MSN search site (http://search.msn.com/). Note to Bill: I prefer the older version better – easier on the eyes.
If you want to compare the new with the old just open another browser and Google-up a search for MSN and view Google’s cached version of MSN. Not that this will likely only work for about a day or so before that cached version is removed. Then you can check out the Wayback Machine’s version of the old MSN layout (July 03, 2004) too if you like.
You can also check out the improvements as pointed out by MSN. One thing I really like is the quickness at which one can go between the different categories of search (web, news, images, etc.) – you don’t have to wait for a new page load. I don’t recall if you had to or not on the old version, but still – very nice.
There’s even a letter from Bill Gates himself announcing the changes they’ve made:
I would like to introduce you to the new MSN Search service and MSN.com home page.
Based on your feedback, we have designed the new MSN.com home page to be faster, simpler, and more organized. We’ve also made MSN Search more precise and powerful, so you can quickly find the information you’re looking for.
Our mission at Microsoft is to use the power of software to solve our customers’ toughest problems. Searching the Internet today is a challenge, and it is estimated that nearly half of customers’ complex questions go unanswered. That’s why we’re proud of our new MSN Search service, a simple and powerful tool that helps you find the answers you want from sources as diverse as Web pages, images, news headlines, music downloads, and even files on your PC.
Input from millions of our customers – including me – was crucial to our efforts to make MSN Search the best it can be. If you have not already tried it, I encourage you to visit www.msn.com and type in your question. We’d love to hear what you think, and I promise that we will continue to improve MSN based on your feedback.
All in all I think I like the improvements, and think it was a good move to help introduce the new search technology. Sometimes if something doesn’t LOOK like it changed, people won’t really notice it as much. I’ve learned this on my own – as if you are introducing a new backend or substantially increased/improved features or offerings on a site a new design will get the visitors attention for a moment and make him/her more reception to your new changes. I think I like the aesthetics of the old version better, but still overall a net improvement. MSN seems to setting the wheels in motion…