A Conversation About MSN Spaces

On Thursday, Microsoft will launch MSN Spaces, Redmond’s entry into the crowded market of blog publishing. There are already a bunch of folks kicking the tires on it, and it will be interesting to see the reaction of users and customers who start to make it their online home (vs. Blogger, TypePad, Userland, etc.).

Many of the usual suspects are already conversing over at Scoble’s place. However, it would be very interesting to hear the point of view from actual users of the system. So, if you are a user of MSN Spaces, what are your thoughts on:

– business vs. personal usefulness
– ease of setup
– ease of configuration
– features
– likelihood of making it your “primary” blogging platform
– technical capabilities
– etc.

In other words…from a user/customer perspective, does Microsoft have a winner on their hands?

(via dave, scoble)

UPDATE: Feedback from other sources:

“Ugh! I was not impressed in the least. The tool is overly simplistic, although it did have a few nice (although not unique) features, like customizable music lists. The designs are limited; in fact, the only variation to the visual elements is of the background and second color (one is always white). Plus, the weblog is powered by ASP.NET, so it’s difficult for search engines to index.” – willsblog

“I am sure it will improve and will be acceptable by 3.0 if MS follows its usual track record (which should be around 2006 🙂 !). No thanks. If you want a free blog, use Blogger or LiveJournal, I see no compelling reason to use MSN spaces at this time.” – Roland Tanglao

“Oh my God. Blogger is going to have it’s hands full with the new MSN Spaces which premiers today…I have to say I’m pretty darn impressed. For anyone who who’s been apprehensive about creating a Blogger site because of all the html coding and such, run…don’t walk to MSN Spaces. You’ll be up and blogging in no time flat.” – theShu, Greensboro Is Talking

“It looks like a very good first effort, with heavy borrowing from Typepad and Blogger, plus some ActiveX links to photo and music tools, and integration with their IM client, for showing presence.” – Stig Hammond

“As usual with a Microsoft 1.0 offering, this gets them in the game… but it certainly isn’t sufficient to get me to leave Blogger (despite its hideous warts), nor for me to recommend it as a solution to others.” – Tony Gentile

“MSN spaces is not a credible option for lawyers looking to blog as a way to market their legal services. The blog sites are set up to share personal information and do not have the necessary features of a good blog, including archiving content by categories and unique domain names.” – Kevin O’Keefe

Additionally, it looks like Feedster just added a Spaces-only search (Hat tip: Tony)

Another update: Xeni does some fine investigative journalism here.

17 Replies to “A Conversation About MSN Spaces”

  1. I was directed here by someone who read my blog on MSN spaces about the different services that are being offered by the different online “giants”, such as MSN, Yahoo, and Google. I am using MSN spaces, mainly to see how it works, how it compares to other blogs, and basically just to get a feel for it. It is definately NOT my primary blog, nor will it ever replace my primary blog.

    My primary blog is WordPress, and decision came after looking at many different blog programs and deciding which had the functions and flexibility that fit what I need – but of course, to use a program like WordPress, you have to have a server, and not everyone has that capability available to them, and one of the things I do on my personal web page is point to resources to those who want online presence at different levels – those who want to have a server to those who want to do it all for free; so I look at things like MSN spaces and assess how they will fit into my suggestions.

    MSN Spaces has some good points and bad points – it is easy to set up (compared to setting up a server based program), it has space for some pictures, music links, and gives kind of a personal portal feel to it all. On the bad side is that all of it is very limited. 10 MB of space for picutres is very limited, especially compared to what I can do with a server – and it’s nice that they gave me some different options on skins, but that’s a far cry from me putting different skins on the server and letting you choose which one you want to look at while you are reading my blog.

    In the end, there is a big trade off in power for ease of use and accessibility – but for those who are not technically or financially capable of setting up a server to get a blog space, or have not figured out that they can get into spaces like live journal, or blogger.com (which let’s face it – tend to have a culture of their own), they can get into a spot like MSN spaces and set up a simple blog. When more people have access to these types of services, we all win because we get a better mix of opinion and discussion. The only ones who loose are those who have been held up as the blogging “elite” as the capability is no longer theirs alone to utilize.

  2. Scenario: My dad is a metallurgical engineer in India. The only time he use he makes of a computer (my old Pentium I with 32MB RAM) is to send/receive emails, browse news websites and call me using Net2Phone service. But he is one enthusiastic individual. He does extensive reading, mainly in print medium. Then when he calls me, he keeps mentioning about how Microsoft is expanding its operations in Hyderabad, RFID is going to revolutionize India, etc. He has his friends circle who consider him the hotspot for technology news. If there could be one active blogger, he would fit the bill. But explaining to him what a blog is, then asking him to go online (net usage in India is not cheap), login to a blogging site, create a new blog entry, publish it, etc etc will take me ages (and drive me crazy at the same time).

    Solution: MSN Spaces to the rescue. I create an MSN space for him using his hotmail ID. I enable MSN Spaces Mobile settings to put his hotmail id as the email address from which he will publish. Thats it. Now all I do is give him the email address where to publish his blog (generally of the form [email protected]). Now he can write an email to this address whenever he finds something interesting, compose the email offline (save money on net usage), connect to the Internet and send using Outlook express and Bingo!!! Its done.

    Advantages: It is a dynamic environment for him to post his thoughts, share with me and his friends and get feedback. Plus it gives a sense of accomplishment (at least for people who have never published anything on the Web) to see your thoughts presented in a really cool format

  3. I use Blogger and found the MSN Spaces to be a fairly good alternative. Would I trade my use of Blogger for MSN? No. I am a Firefox user and any Microsoft site runs slow or is outright incompatible. A fact I do not appreciate, so right out of the box MSN Spaces has a point against it. From a usability viewpoint – not too bad – it is pretty clean and simple. It could use some deeper editing features though. It certainly is trying to add as much content to the landing page of the Blog which may be a bad thing as it can seem a little cluttered if you end up populating all of the available content spots. I don’t like that you need to have a Passport to use it. If you want to creatively have several Blogs for different reasons (an online novel or two for example) you would have to create multiple Passport identities – a pain at best. With a little work they could make it a lot better – will it kill the other Blog sites? I doubt it.

  4. Blog This Space

    While blogger.com might not have a spiffy interface, and be run by another mega-corporation, somehow, I’m not going anywhere else. A thought – what if I posted a Creative Commons-licensed blog on MSN Spaces? Would that invalidate the MSN or the Commo…

  5. The fact that a product (much less a blogging tool) published by Microsoft has completely ignored web standards AGAIN just amazes me. They JUST DON’t GET IT!

    I don’t see how people can take this Spaces thing seriously…and I don’t think that true bloggers ever will.

  6. “MSN Spaces is people!”

    Obligatory MSN hosted blogging service post, autoquoting from MSN Spaces = soylent green Xeni Jardin: Updated. Today, Microsoft launches their free hosted blogging platform, spaces.msn.com. What effect the service will have on Blogger, TypePad, Userlan…

  7. Christopher, just wanted to drop you a note of thanks for the mention(s) on this post — very kind. It was great meeting you at BloggerCon; hope to run into you again at events around the Bay.

  8. I think MSN Blogger is easy to use, but could do with more customization ability. Like the look and feel of .Text or typepad blogs (like this one) would be great, because these use space more economically. Right now the skins are all more or less the same.

  9. as a blogger, i think it’s laughable. but if i wasn’t interested in learning the ins & outs of MT or WP, i think i would dig it. i’ve been playing around with the service here: http://spaces.msn.com/members/iknowwhatimdoing/ … and there are a couple aspects which are pretty disastrous, but a casual user wouldn’t be bothered by them. i don’t see spaces having any advantage over blogger. and the major advantage it has over livejournal at the moment is that it’s not overrun by squealing children. so, i wonder if it’ll do for blogging what internet explorer did for browsing: that is, bring on board and retain tons of clueless home users through sheer ubitquity, while hoping that most users won’t be interested in sorting through and experimenting with the numerous superior alternatives.

  10. – business vs. personal usefulness
    Useful for sharing pictures, not a business blog
    – ease of setup
    beats the rest
    – ease of configuration
    beats the rest
    – features
    photo album, management tools
    – likelihood of making it your “primary” blogging platform
    not likely’but I doubt that’s who they had in mind
    – technical capabilities
    love the themes and the UI

  11. MS Blog Cube (dilbert joke)

    Xeni Jardin: Today, Microsoft launches their free hosted blogging platform, spaces.msn.com. What effect the service will have on Blogger, TypePad, Userland, and the like is, predictably, a subject of great debate. The service is free, and seems aimed …

  12. Good conversation, Christopher!

    My take is this – I think this will have huge appeal to anyone who uses Hotmail, MSN and all other such Microsoft offerings because it’s so easy and seamless. Just log in with your Passport account. Create your blog. Start posting. While it lacks lots of things more seasoned bloggers are used to, it will be perfect for anyone who’s just starting out. 10 megs of storage space. RSS feeds. Trackbacks. Commenting. That’s not a bad start. And it’s free.

    Reading some of the comments here (and elsewhere) about this service doesn’t support standards, etc, will that matter to a teenager in Paris, say, who just wants to write some stuff, post some pics and tell her friends how cool it all is? Of course not. She can do those things, standards or not.

    So I started a space as well, just to see what’s it like. Yes, it is simple, certainly not for professional use. But I think it’s extremely good for a beta, warts and all!

  13. MSN Spaces is irritating in one very important way. About half the time when you want to “publish” your work, it times out to the usual error message. When you go back, the cached page loses all your changes. Be sure to copy it first (ctrl-insert) or you’re likely to be as pissed as I was.

  14. – business vs. personal usefulness
    It would be unprofessional for a business to use this… it would be like a business having a Hotmail account.

    – ease of setup
    It IS really easy to set up, I’ll give it that.

    – ease of configuration
    Go and have a look for yourself; most spaces are still stuck with the default configuration. It’s still incredibly easy, drag & drop, but it’s all modules with set places, you can’t change the width or anything. Yahoo’s My Start Page is more customizable, for Heaven’s sake.

    – features
    Lists (music-based on Media Player of course, books, custom), categories, photos.

    – likelihood of making it your “primary” blogging platform
    I already am. Why? Because it connects directly to my MSN list; the people I know are actually reading it.

    – technical capabilities
    Lots of “This Space is not available” and malfunctioning post buttons, but I always manage to recoup.

  15. Guess What???

    For people that actually use a blog for anything more than sappy poems and useless drival, MSN spaces is crap in a hand basket.

    I’ve spent a couple of months fooling with “my space” and now find out that the MSN spaces format is not supported by Google.

    Quote from Google…

    “”Unsupported file format Your Sitemap does not appear to be in a supported format. Please ensure it meets our Sitemap guidelines and resubmit. “”

    If Google cant find you than the majority of web surfers will never find you either.
    I’ll take my experiance in building moes garage and move it to someplace that can be searched/found.

    This just seems typical of Microsoft in general.
    Employ developers that don’t know what THE REST OF THE UNIVERSE is doing.

    Wake up Redmond Washington, Life does not revolve around Microsoft.

    ….The limited free time I have is spent in building hotrods in the home shop.. Now it looks like I’m going to have to take a crash course in building my on website which cuts into my shop time. The last two months with msn are a near total loss. Chalk one up to experience.
    I should have known better.



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