Microsoft promised it was coming and now it’s here. The MSN brand is reigning supreme across all Microsoft platforms, with the Bing name taking a back seat.
Microsoft’s new-look MSN.com preview—introduced earlier in September—recently dumped its beta tag and is now the official design for the company’s web portal.
The MSN refresh is also reaching Windows and Windows Phone, where most Bing apps are being renamed with the MSN moniker. This includes built-in apps on Windows 8.1 such as Food & Drink, Sports, and Weather. They will all retain their current names—simply swapping "Bing" for "MSN"—with the exception of Bing Finance, which is now taking on the classic Microsoft moniker, MSN Money.
Although Bing is disappearing from Microsoft’s suite of lifestyle apps, the search brand is not dead. It’s merely being refocused on powering search and so-called intelligent experiences such as Cortana.
The story behind the story: Rather than being a functional change, this is an opportunity for Microsoft to hone the way the company markets its brands—a sore spot for a company that has long tended to use one name across numerous disparate services. Why were these apps even branded after the Bing search engine to begin with? Leveraging the dormant MSN brand for apps baked into Windows can help Microsoft deliver a clearer story to everyday users.
What’s new with the MSN apps
For Windows 8.1 users the Bing-to-MSN switch won’t really be that noticeable. The apps don’t look fundamentally different and just have a minor tweak to their names, as the term “MSN” doesn’t even show up on the Start screen. It only appears when you open an app.
Windows Phone users, however, are getting a few niceties. The MSN Health & Fitness and Weather apps can now display data on the lock screens of Windows Phones. You can, for example, use MSN Weather to get your local forecast at a glance. Anyone who owns a Lumia 1520, 630, or 635 will also be able to view their pedometer data from the Health & Fitness app on their lock screen.
As part of Microsoft’s continuing embrace of the cloud the company says the new MSN apps also mean a unified experience across your devices. If you set your stock watchlist on MSN.com, for example, you’ll see the same data when you fire up MSN Money in the modern UI on Windows 8.1.
In addition to the new Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone apps, Microsoft says an entire suite of MSN-branded apps are also in the works for Android and iOS.