Microsoft downgrades MSN news service

Software giant Microsoft has made another one of its spectacularly stupid business own goals and slashed its MSN news service.

The Vole has been trying to work out what it should do with its MSN portal. After much soul searching, it decided that it could save a bob or two.  After all people don’t visit a site for the news, they come to be entertained by the adverts right?

Microsoft cut its freelance and contract budget. In an industry where most of the original content comes from freelancers, this means that Microsoft is going to be playing it safe and following a news churn.

According to the Seattle Times, the cuts are a result of budget-tightening and a post-reorganisation cunning plan.

There is a little more to this than it appears. doesn’t really look to fit easily with the rest of the super new “devices and services” focused Microsoft.

Last year, Microsoft created a new version of the site that was customised for use with Windows 8, Windows RT and IE 10. That version had a Metro-Style look and feel and was optimised for touch.  

But Microsoft had a bit of a problem.  Unlike most news services, where the idea is to tell the story, Microsoft insisted that the site market its technologies, like Bing search, Skype, and Outlook.  Needless to say, that did not work well and people treated it much like they did Windows 8.

The company had another crack at it. MSN News, along with an updated news portal featuring AP and Reuters, along with content from Microsoft’s own reporters was created following Microsoft’s sell-off of its 50 percent stake in the Microsoft-NBC MSNBC joint venture in 2012.

Earlier this year Vole was desperately trying to flog to Yahoo in exchange for Yahoo’s search business. Yahoo said yahboo sucks.

The site brings in 100 million unique visitors each month to Microsoft, so this is a classic case of Microsoft cutting off its nose to spite its face. 

If any normal company had that many visitors it would be working out ways to make a lot of money from them.  Microsoft wants to kill all that off in favour of moving into an industry in which it has so far shown no competence.

Meanwhile Vole has been playing musical chairs with the magazine. In July, Microsoft moved into its Applications and Services organisation under Qi Lu. It has combined and the Bing AppEx team, which developed a number of consumer-focused Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps.  The site is part of a new Microsoft Apps, Media and Publishing Group.