The Inside Microsoft blog has an entry where he describes the Syndicate Conference Keynote by Phil Holden of MSN. Phil talks about MSN Spaces and the various things we are doing on Excerpts from the post are below

Next, Phil shows off MSN Spaces, which is very consumer oriented and easy to set up. He says, "The product is clearly not for everyone". It is very much targeted to the Friends/Friends market. The conducted a survey to see what people thought Spaces did well. Number one was sharing photos, while in last place was staying up to date on hot topics.

He shows how many people use MSN Spaces. In December, it was one million. In January, 2; February, 3.5; and March, 4. However, since Messenger 7 went live and Spaces left beta, Spaces exploded, going up to 10 million Spaces at the end of April. Wow. They are adding 100,000 Spaces a day.

Moving on, Phil gets into notifications. He mentions "gleaming", where Microsoft leverages Messenger to notify people that their friends have updated their Space. Clicking on a person reveals their contact card, and that can take you to the blog. This is the single-source personal notification system.

Phil shows how a less personal, single-source public contact notification occurs, through MSN Alerts. This is what they acquired MessageCast for last week. It will work to notify people of updated blogs.

The multiple-sourse public notification is through MSN's "What's Your Story" page, which highlights the most interesting Spaces.

Then he introduces Kyle Von Haden, program manger of Global Site & Develoment at MSN, who shows off, which is to be the multiple-source personal notification system, or RSS reader. He explains how they have been silently releasing and updating stuff on, with no publicity for the time being. can be a superfast loading home page. The whole thing is built in Ajax, so they can change the page without refreshing. They plan to add sections that suggest feeds that a person's friends like. The focus is making it easy, simple, fast, and with no learning curve.

Then he shows off something new, what will be next:, a much richer interface, with folders, logos, custom pages. You can add custom feeds, like weather feeds. It looks very, very impressive.
Phil says one good idea would be to build RSS readers into existing applications, making it easier for users to adopt and use. Challenges exist in making it easier for users to understand what's going on, so they don't just get confused by little orange boxes. Industry challenges exist from different formats and authentication for private content.

Kyle gets back up and shows off the next thing from MSN: a (currently alpha) screensaver that uses RSS to show recent news, much like Apple's Tiger has, but much cleaner looking. Its very easy to add any feed, especially easy for Spaces. You can subscribe to image feeds and have those feeds supply the photos on the screen, as well as showing blog entries and news articles. The product didn't work perfectly yet, but seeing the photos full-screen with other articles in the corner looked very useful.

Phil wraps thing off with some goals, including serving multiple segments of consumers, new ways of getting content (like the screensaver), and strategies to let the public know how useful syndication can be.

A great presentation. MSN clearly gets RSS better than most, and they've got some very interesting stuff coming down the pike.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with Steve Rider about a feature I'd like to see on which I thought would be rather cool. Yesterday I got a demo of the next version of the site from Scott Isaacs, and not only was my idea implemented but the implementation was a lot better than what I requested. Excellent!!

Now I can't wait for the next version to ship.  


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