Microsoft overhauls MSN home page

Microsoft is giving its MSN home page a revamp, with a new, more open look and integrated Facebook and Twitter feeds.

The new beta version can be seen here, and marks the first major change for years.

The main difference is the lack of clutter – more than half the links in the previous version have gone. Instead, there are five main drop-down menus covering entertainment, news, sports, lifestyle and finance.

“Now is the time to clean up the mess on the Web — people need less clutter and less hassle to find what matters most to them,” said Erik Jorgensen, corporate vice president of Microsoft. “Microsoft is uniquely invested in search, media experiences and technical innovation. Combining these assets to deliver our new MSN home page is a tremendous win for customers and advertisers.”

The new home page is tightly integrated with Bing, which should help boost the search engine’s market share from its current ten percent or so. It also includes Twitter and Facebook feeds, so that users don’t need to leave the page to update status or post a tweet..

There’s a new section called MSN Local Edition, giving location-based  information on nearby events and services.

“The time was right for us to make a big bet, and our approach needed to be bold,” said Lisa Gurry, senior director, MSN. “Today is an important transformation for MSN, and it’s only the beginning.”

The new version should become available in the US next year.