A variety of logos hover above the Microsoft booth on the opening day of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 10, 2012. The world’s largest software company is making a “big, multi-million dollar investment” to create a “decent-sized media operation,” said Bob Visse, general manager, MSN Product Management Group.
Microsoft sold its 50 percent stake in news website MSNBC.com in July to longtime partner NBCUniversal, now majority-owned by Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O). MSNBC’s newsroom at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washington is being wound down, while MSN builds up a news team at its nearby Bellevue offices. MSN will chiefly aggregate news from sources such as Reuters, a unit of Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO), the Associated Press and NBC, but it will also produce its own content, Visse said. He did not say how many journalists the news site would employ.
Microsoft’s flagship website, which gets about 480 million visitors per month worldwide, is one of the biggest portals on the Internet, alongside Yahoo (YHOO.O) and AOL (AOL.N), and serves as the gateway to other Microsoft online services such as Outlook mail and Skype online calling.
The site is being radically overhauled for Microsoft’s touch-optimized Windows 8 system and Internet Explorer 10, which will be launched on October 26. The new look is designed to appeal to tablet and touch-screen PC users, who can manipulate large icons across the screen and tap on items they want to read.
For the first time, the site will have a uniform look across all its sections, from news and sports to money and job listings. Microsoft’s foray into news reflects the company’s growing interest in creating its own content. Last month it hired a former CBS Corp (CBS.N) executive to run a new studio creating original entertainment for the Xbox gaming console.