I Love MSN, I Hate MSN


Virtually everything released by the MSN team in the last year or two rocks. Spaces. MSN Search. Even the toolbar with the long name. My personal favorite is www.start.com.

Every now and then I poll it to see what’s new, and I’m never disappointed. The newest incarnation (http://www.start.com/myw3b/) is slicker yet simpler then virtually any other online reader available. Way to go!



Virtually all of MSN's "older" stuff annoys me on multiple levels - as a user, as a developer, as a Microsoft employee. It's beyond me how anyone is supposed to use some of that stuff.

Case in point - Scott Woodgate recently released an excellent whitepaper (“Understanding Microsoft's Integration Technologies“, http://blogs.msdn.com/scottwoo/archive/2005/06/08/426904.aspx). Unfortunately, the document itself was hosted on an an MSN group (biztalkserverstuff) . MSN groups are still firmly planted in the 90’s– add-laden, slow, ugly and grossly inconsiderate to the users. In fact, it is so painful to use MSN groups that ScottWoo’s post triggered a flurry of emails by people searching for an alternate source for the whitepaper. Here are the hoops which MSN put me through just to access Scott’s whitepaper:

  1. When opening the document link, MSN prompted me to login via my passport account, which I did.

  2. MSN then forced me to fill in a LONG AND ANNOYING personal information form including exact birth date, industry, zipcode, etc.

  3. After all that- MSN returned a 403 error.

  4. So I reread ScottWoo’s post, noticed that I actually have to join the MSN group to access the doc.

  5. I opened http://groups.msn.com and tried to navigate to find a useful link. Over half of the real estate on this page is taken up by intrusive Lavalife, True and match.com advertisements. First of all, I’m married and couldn’t care less. Secondly, I’m doing this from work, and customers are not always overjoyed to walk by and notice their $200+ an hour MCS consultant is browsing sites which prominently display large pictures of chicks in bikinis.

  6. I finally give up on figuring out the navigation scheme and instead just search for ‘biztalkserverstuff’.

  7. The MSN group homepage is http://groups.msn.com/biztalkserverstuff. This page is uber-ugly, and looks like an amateur geocities homepage circa 1998. Purple, yellow, red, gray with multiple font faces and sizes. Ewww. I click ‘Join’

  8. Get prompted to sign in. AGAIN. I login using passport.

  9. Since I’m not a member, I need to fill out a “Join” form, and choose a nickname. I try “addys” for a nick, but MSN suggests “GutlessAddys ”, “GhostyAddys ” or “Addys8647” instead.

  10. I shutdown my computer in disgust. 

The MSN team is obviously capable of great things, but I wonder how they will ever manage to overcome the huge amount of legacy suckage that they're stuck with. Oh well, maybe I should put my money where my mouth is and join the team ;) Just kidding mom!!