Microsoft unveils touch-sensitive redesign of MSN

Microsoft unveils touch-sensitive redesign of MSN; loads twice as fast, has "app-like" look

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 8, is being tailored with touch devices in mind, so it should come as no surprise that its main news website, MSN, is getting a makeover too.

The Seattle-based software giant on Monday unveiled a new look — or rather, touch — for its flagship news site, which gets more than 480 million visitors each month. It's a cleaner design aimed at evoking a more "app-like" experience.

The company promises that the site will be snappier — loading pages twice as fast as before. By slashing the number of links by 40 percent, stories are more spread out and easier to view. Lead items have larger headlines, so readers can tell what's most important at a glance.

You can flip through pages with your finger to get to other stories, and you can swipe through the so-called "info pane" that showcases top stories at the top left of the page.

All of this makes it easier to navigate the site with your fingertips instead of a mouse and keyboard.

The revamped page will be exclusive to people who use both Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10, and it will be the default home page on the IE browser that ships with the new operating system on Oct. 26.

The redesigned site will give new Windows 8 users a way to enjoy their touch-enabled devices, said Bob Visse, Microsoft's general manager of MSN. Although people can change their home page pretty easily, he hopes they'll like what they find.

"We have a chance to make a new positive impression for MSN," Visse said. "We poured our resources and energy into making this. We're hopeful that will work."

One other new feature of the site: users of tablets or touch-enabled PCs can "snap" the site off to a thin area on the left side of the screen by dragging their finger down from the top edge of the screen and over to the side. That move will resize video and other page elements so the user can multitask on the rest of the screen.

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