Friday, June 09, 2006

Preview of upgrade (to be released next week)

The Microsoft beta is about to roll out some improvements to the service. The upgrade won't (ahem) go live until next week, but Microsoft provided the Search Champs mailing list with details and screenshots - which I've put into an Image Gallery.

According to Microsoft, has 3 main goals:

1. Be a default search homepage.

2. Be a personalized homepage (like Google Personalized Homepage, Netvibes, Pageflakes, etc).

3. Be a central place to access Windows Live services.


Here are more notes from Microsoft's Kris Barton about the upgrade:

"With tonight's release [Editor's note: will not be released now until early next week], we have made some improvements driving towards each of the above goals:

- We have simplified our first run experience to provide a fast and straight-forward experience for users that are interested in a search-focused page, as well as the option for users to personalize their homepage or learn more about Windows Live services. (note: existing users can't see this page unless you click 'start over' while signed in or if you sign out - we're working on making this more accessible to everyone)

- We have heard that users want a personalized homepage that is easy to set up, so we are also introducing a new customization step to help users personalize their homepage. Users can now choose from 4 templates to quickly get started with a few interesting pages right away.

- You'll also not some look and feel improvements with a new logo and header that make the page more visually appealing."

The new logo doesn't seem to be visible in the screenshots, but you'll note the new faded blue header bar.