In an unexpected move Microsoft has announced that it will be rebranding its Windows 8 and Windows Phone Bing apps to MSN, and bring them to the cloud and iOS and Android.
The apps (News, Sports, News, Sports, Money, Travel, Food & Drink and Health & Fitness) currently has close to 50 million users on Windows and Windows Phone, and will now also be available via the MSN home page, which as the default home page of Internet Explorer still has 437 million unique users, despite years of underinvestment.
Users will be able to sign in with one ID and have their content available on all platforms, which Microsoft notes is part of their new "cloud first, mobile first" strategy.
"In the coming months, we will release a suite of MSN apps across iOS and Android to complement our corresponding Windows and Windows Phone apps," Microsoft corporate vice president Brian MacDonald notes. "You only need to set your favorites once, and your preferences will be connected across MSN, Cortana, Bing and other Microsoft experiences. Whether it is your watchlist of stocks in MSN Money, your favorite sports teams in MSN Sports, or your recipe collections in MSN Food & Drink, those things will always be with you at your PC at work, on your iPad in the living room, or on your Android phone when you are on the go."
The apps should arrive on other platforms by the end of the year.
You can access a web-based version of the Bing apps now at preview.msn.com.
While the move makes sense in many ways, and I am sure our readers would love our iOS and Android using friends and family have access to the same excellent Bing apps we use, in truth Microsoft’s hopes for hit apps on other platforms have gone largely unfulfilled, with the best success likely being their Office suite on iOS. Refocusing on other, larger mobile platforms is unlikely to result in much success, given the competition from more than 2 million apps available iOS and Android, and we hope Microsoft continues to deliver on Windows Phone, where their well designed apps are really needed.
Rebranding to the fading brand of MSN makes somewhat less sense, and I think I would feel somewhat embarrassed recommending MSN apps to anyone, no matter how good they are. Do our readers agree?