August 16, 2005
@ 06:40 PM

Joe Wilcox, an analyst for Jupiter Research, recently posted his changed impressions on MSN Spaces in his blog post Making Room for My Space. He writes

I have started using MSN Spaces as the place where I keep my personal Weblog. Duing 2004 and part of 2005, I used TypePad's blogging service, and more recently moved one of my domains to a bloghoster. While a domain offers great search engine exposure, using the hosted blogging software requires some knowledge of HTML/CSS coding and other techniques; it's more work and trouble than I have time for. TypePad is a good alterative that's fairly easy to use, but it's by no means point and click.

To Microsoft's credit, MSN Spaces is remarkably easy to use, or so I am discovering as I give the service a hard second look. Sure, there were glitches at beta launch, but the service seems solid now. Some established blogger balked at the lack of control, meaning Microsoft tools took most of it, when the service launched as beta. But Microsoft never meant the service for them, but the masses of people that hadn't yet started blogging, and maybe folks like me too busy to become an amateur blogsite designer.

The simplicity and beauty of Microsoft's approach foreshadows possible future product changes competitors and partners shouldn't ignore...MSN Spaces takes that approach, of providing easy tools for doing the most common blogsite tasks. The user doesn't have as much control, but he or she can get the most common tasks quickly done. Over time, Microsoft has increased the amount of control and customization that power users would want, such as Friday's release of three MSN Spaces PowerToys, for layout control, custom (sandbox) modules and Windows Media content.
I would encourage Microsoft competitors and partners to closely watch MSN Spaces' progress. Apple blindsided Microsoft with iPod and the iTunes Music Store, a circumstance well understood by Microsoft product managers. Simplicity is one cornerstone of the products' success. Synching iPod to iTunes is no more complicated than connecting the device to the computer. There are settings to do more, but the baseline functionality that is suitable to most users is plug and synch. Microsoft has embarked on a similar, simpler approach with MSN Spaces.

It is interesting seeing how geeks adore complexity in the software and hardware that they use. I can still remember Robert Scoble's complaints about Spaces in his post MSN Spaces isn't the blogging service for me  or even CmdrTaco's comments when Apple released the iPod, "No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame". Despite both products being dissed by A-list geeks they have become widely adopted by millions of people.  

More proof that designing for regular people is a lot different from designing for geeks.