When Windows 8 launches on Friday, Oct. 26, so will the new MSN.com — the home of MSN News, a newMicrosoft-owned and -operated news organization. The new MSN will also serve up a special version of the site for Windows 8 users.
If you view the new MSN in Internet Explorer 10 on a Windows 8 device, you’ll quickly see it’s something special. Not only is the layout tailored to match the minimalist, rectangular design aesthetic of Windows 8, but it also takes full advantage of how IE10 can work in tandem with hardware for an improved browsing experience.
Built with HTML5, the Windows 8 version of MSN will work with IE10′s hardware acceleration, ensuring the site is fluid and fast to respond to touch. The site also adapts perfectly to Windows 8′s “snap” view, which lets you shrink apps to fill just a sidebar in the screen, the content re-formatting itself for the thinner window.
Microsoft let me take a early peek at the new version of MSN on a Windows 8 tablet. Whereas today’s MSN.com throws users to a hodgepodge of different-looking layouts (and third-party news sites), the Windows 8 version is very consistent and clean. Almost too clean — there aren’t even any sharing buttons, but Microsoft says that’s because I was looking at a preview, and that they’ll be there when the site launches.
Scrolling through a gallery of celebrities, I could feel the fluidity that Microsoft was aiming for. As my fingers swiped the screen, each photo slid into place with no lags, stutters or “hold on, I’m still downloading” blanks. Videos looked sharp and played almost instantly (I was on Wi-Fi).
Bob Visse, Microsoft’s general manager of MSN, says the company aims to make MSN.com a showcase for what site designers can do with Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8.
“We’re trying to show that you can do app-like experiences inside of a browse,” Visse says. “We’re going to be the first site that goes this deep into the features.”