Microsoft Corp. launched a redesigned MSN portal for mobile phones, with improved navigation and optimized display of Web pages.
Users of many Web-capable phones can navigate to the mobile.msn.com site and from there access a variety of Microsoft online services such as Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger. PC users can visit the page to check if their phone is supported.
MSN Mobile users can also read sports news from Fox Sports, check on the weather forecast, search the Internet and view maps. They can use Windows Live Local to search for local businesses and receive results including maps and directions. The site is designed to offer features similar to MSN.com for PC users.
The new MSN Mobile also improves the way that pages are displayed for mobile users. MSN detects the phone a user has and then delivers pages that fit the device's screen, Microsoft said.
Microsoft first launched MSN Mobile out of beta in May.
Microsoft hopes to strike deals with operators to integrate MSN Mobile into their own portals. Operators in Europe have been more eager than their U.S. counterparts to form such partnerships with strong online brands like Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc. U.S. operators often prefer to offer Web content and services under their own brands.
Making a deal with MSN Mobile means that operators can display advertisements to mobile Web users, using technology based on Microsoft's recent acquisition of ScreenTonic, a developer of a mobile advertisement system. Microsoft is competing against online giants Google and Yahoo, as well as various startup companies, to deliver advertisements to mobile users. Because there are many more mobile phone users than PC users around the world, these online services companies see the potential for significant revenue from mobile advertisements.
MSN Mobile is currently available to phone users in the U.S. and Microsoft plans to introduce the new portal around the world throughout this year.