MSN (Microsoft Network)

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Current logo from MSN
Former MSN logo (from 2011 to 2014)
Former logo (from 2000 to 2011)

MSN is Microsoft's web portal ( website with web applications ) that offers various information services. The name originally goes back to an abbreviation for the Internet service provider The Microsoft Network , but this full name is no longer used today. As an access provider , MSN Dial-up now only appears in the United States . The MSN web portal and other services continue to be available in many countries.


Roots of MSN

Initially, the "Microsoft Network" was founded as a pure Internet service provider on August 24, 1995 to enable users of the newly launched Windows 95 to easily get started on the Internet. This service was linked to Microsoft's Windows operating system right from the start. At that time, the term "Internet" did not refer to a universal network that connected practically all available internet service providers with practically all users. At MSN, it referred to its own online platform, which provided content as an alternative to the open Internet. The main competitor at the time was AOL's proprietary network , which also raised concerns from antitrust authorities in the USA. Since sole access to the MSN network was not a platform that could seriously assert itself, the decision was quickly made to set up an information portal on the open Internet, also under the name MSN .

MSN was primarily a portal with various information in one place on the Internet. Since Bill Gates and thus Microsoft did not believe in the success of the Internet during Windows 95, MSN had only limited success. As it turned out later, this was a fatal miscalculation, and Microsoft had a lot of trouble catching up on the lagging behind other competitors.

Initial problems

The Netscape Navigator web browser was very successful when the MSN services started; Microsoft's Internet Explorer followed some time later during the first browser war , after which Internet Explorer took a virtual monopoly among web browsers for a few years.

Furthermore, MSN was tailored to the US market in the early days , and many offers were not available in many other countries. This led to many users looking for other Internet services outside of the United States, so that Microsoft got other competitors on the foreign market and found it difficult to counter them.

Progress from MSN through Microsoft Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer logo in version 2.01 from 1996

This shadowy existence of MSN quickly came to an end when Microsoft decided in 1995 to invest heavily in the development of its own Internet Explorer, so that the Netscape Navigator quickly lost its importance. Since then, Microsoft has offered Internet Explorer as well as the MSN portal as an integral part of its Windows operating systems . The ailing company Netscape was soon bought by AOL as a result of the lost first browser war. In 2008 the development of Netscape Navigator was finally stopped completely.

With the enormously increasing spread of Internet Explorer, the MSN portal also established itself in the United States and other countries, which can still be found in Windows Internet Explorer (the new proper name) in version 8 as the default start page after installing Windows is. The Internet access business moved noticeably into the background at MSN.

Development since the turn of the millennium

In 2003, Microsoft's MSN business was in the black for the first time. MSN increasingly diversified its services on the Internet. Communication programs such as MSN Messenger or MSN Chat were added as new services. In many industrialized countries, this is the cornerstone for the popularity of the Microsoft brand MSN, which continues today.

Logo of the now discontinued Windows Live Messenger

Due to these developments, “MSN” is still a term for the discontinued Windows Live Messenger , which emerged from MSN Messenger and has meanwhile been integrated into Skype . The MSN Groups have also been renamed Windows Live Groups, but these have now also been discontinued. Microsoft fundamentally changed its Internet strategy with the Windows Live brand.

The brands MSN and Windows Live

Many of today's Windows Live services were once part of MSN, until Microsoft decided to remove all personal services from MSN and relocate them to Windows Live. Well-known applications such as MSN Messenger or MSN Hotmail have been renamed and supplemented. In the course of Windows Live, Microsoft's personal services were deeply networked under one brand.

Initially, this change did not turn out to be very new. In the course of expanding the Windows Live services, MSN then turned into an information portal that acts alongside the Windows Live services. Until recently, Windows Live Messenger used a Microsoft account , formerly also known as Microsoft Passport or Windows Live ID, to identify individual users. In addition to Hotmail addresses, email addresses not operated by Microsoft can still be used for this purpose if they are registered as a login account. With this identification via Microsoft's single sign-on service Microsoft account, you can also log on to the MSN portal.

MSN today

Worldwide, MSN is still one of the largest and most widely used web portals alongside Yahoo and AOL. MSN offers numerous fee-based, but also advertising-financed Internet services. Some of them are still only available in the USA, but many of them can also be used on other regional MSN portals. Probably the best-known original MSN service is Hotmail , which is one of the first and largest web-based e-mail services, was at times part of Windows Live and has been called since 2012 . MSN has had an adapted design since Windows 8 went on sale . In 2014, Microsoft released MSN apps for iOS, Android and Amazon devices.

MSN services in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Today's MSN services

MSN today offers a variety of different information services that are free. These include, for example:

  • Internet portal as home page
  • News and politics
  • Finance and stock prices
  • Fashion and style
  • Weather forecast
  • Online games
  • Videos
  • Sports
  • Travel and leisure
  • automobile
  • Bing search
  • OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive and even earlier Windows Live Folders)
  • Skype
  • Maps (Bing Maps)
  • OneNote
  • Office Online

Former MSN services

Hotmail was an MSN service

Many services of the original MSN are now flagged and no longer operate under the name MSN. This includes, for example:

Some MSN services have been completely discontinued. This happened, for example, with the following services:

  • MSN Encarta / MSN Encarta Premium: Retired with Microsoft Encarta because of the success of Wikipedia and other online open dictionaries
  • MSN Spaces: initially reflagged to Windows Live Spaces , later discontinued and replaced by WordPress
  • MSN Music: discontinued as an online music service and replaced by Xbox Music. This was renamed Groove Music in July 2015 and discontinued on January 1, 2018
  • MSN Chat: approximately 1.2 million users worldwide when discontinued, closed on October 14, 2003. From this point on, chatting via MSN online was only possible in the MSN Groups . This chat option was finally discontinued on October 16, 2006.

The MSN portal international

MSN services are available today in 42 countries and in 29 languages. The scope of the portal pages differs enormously from version to version. MSN portals are available for the following countries, among others:

Australia , Belgium , Brazil , Chile , China , Denmark , Germany , Finland , France , Greece , Hong Kong , Ireland , Italy , Japan , Canada , Korea , Luxembourg , Mexico , Netherlands , Norway , Poland , Portugal , Sweden , Switzerland , Singapore , Spain , Taiwan , Thailand , Czech Republic , Turkey , United Kingdom , United States and Austria .

MSN as part of Windows

Over time, Microsoft has integrated MSN services more and more deeply into its Windows operating system. This was partially criticized by users and also led to legal disputes because of suspected unfair competition. The following sample information relates to installations of the Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems :

  • The MSN portal page is the standard start page of Windows Internet Explorer .
  • There are links to MSN services in the favorites of Windows Internet Explorer.
  • The MSN Explorer is pre-installed with Windows XP.
  • The Internet games included as standard under Windows Me and XP use the services of MSN Games.
  • When setting up an e-mail account via Outlook Express from Windows XP, it is suggested that you create an MSN Hotmail account.
  • When setting up Internet access via modem or ISDN, MSN is suggested as the access provider.
  • MSN Music is the standard Internet retailer for music downloads in Windows Media Player .
  • MSN Hotmail and MSN Messenger and their successors in Windows Live are preinstalled on devices with Windows Mobile .

With Microsoft Windows 7 , the seamless integration of MSN services and Windows Live products into the operating system has been relaxed again. The Outlook Express successor Windows Live Mail is no longer part of the Windows scope of delivery, but is offered separately for download as part of the Windows Live Essentials . In addition, MSN Explorer, for example, is no longer a preinstalled component of Windows.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The History of the Web Browser
  2. SRF Archive: Windows 95 (1995) | SRF archive. March 27, 2015, accessed March 12, 2019 .
  3. Florian Kalenda: MSN Messenger is finally closing. In: August 29, 2014, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  4. Marius Oiaga: MSN Groups Are Dead, Three Days to Go. In: February 20, 2009, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  5. AFP: E-Mail Service: Microsoft exchanges Hotmail for In: . August 1, 2012, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  6. Microsoft publishes MSN apps for Android, iOS and Amazon devices . Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  7. Martin Brinkmann: Microsoft kills OneDrive Groups, wants you to use shared folders instead - gHacks Tech News. In: May 23, 2014, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  8. Xbox Music is being replaced: Microsoft is looking for the right groove. In: Spiegel Online . July 7, 2015, accessed January 6, 2017 .
  9. Retrieved April 29, 2018 .
  10. Windows 7 functions: Windows Live and "7": Microsoft outsources programs