In an effort to lend continuity throughout its online properties, Microsoft launched a redesign of its MSN.com network of sites last week and also expanded distribution of its HomeAdvisor Internet real estate service.
The lo-fi redesign, which consists entirely of text, provides links to all of the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant’s MSN services. Those include the free email service Hotmail, MSNBC, Carpoint, the MSN Gaming Zone, and the Investor, Shopping and Expedia travel electronic commerce sites. It also provides common navigation and access to a new search service, MSN Web Search, as well as MSN Web Communities.
The project had been in the works for much of the year under the code name “start.” The web address www.start.com still leads to the MSN homepage.
The redesign comes as Microsoft builds services around MSN.com. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that it would launch the site in native languages with local content in 24 countries by the end of the year. Meanwhile, membership to the company’s Microsoft Network service has languished in the low seven digits, as leader America Online has hit the 12-million member mark.
HomeAdvisor has also expanded its relationship with MSN.com. HomeAdvisor launched in July and provides real estate listings, loans and related editorial content.
Ian Morris, group product manager of the Microsoft HomeAdvisor, said the goal is to bring the sites together and “really bring one experience to the consumer.”
“Our category-leading distribution, combined with innovative programs such as BrokerFirst, provides real estate brokers on HomeAdvisor with an unprecedented opportunity to market their products and services to online home buyers everywhere,” Morris said. “Our deep integration with MSN will give our listings providers the highest level of exposure available anywhere.”
HomeAdvisor also has distribution deals with Yahoo, online community GeoCities and Infoseek. Many traditional real estate companies have also put their listings online.