From today Windows Live Shopping beta will be taken offline, with users being sent to MSN Shopping, available at shopping.msn.com. This appears to be part of the ongoing self-correcting process taking place in on Windows Live, occuring as a result of various MSN products being moved over to the new Windows Live brand in 2006, without much thought being given to their long-term future. In this case, reverting back to MSN is a good decision, as having 3 shopping products under one brand was just too much.
So how do the various shopping services differ? Here's how it was explained to us when we chatted with the Product Search team early last year:
- MSN Shopping (briefly Windows Live Shopping beta) - this service is aimed at providing the user with access to the large retailers. Think of this as your large high-street shopping complex / mall.
- Windows Live Product Search - for those who know exactly what they want, and are happy to purchase from smaller, less mainstream retailers. Integrates with Windows Live Search for a complete search experience.
- Windows Live Expo - user to user marketplace, just like Ebay.
So with Soapbox, Shopping and Wifi soon to all be with MSN, will this confuse the regular user more or less? It seems that the original argument around MSN providing content is not as clear cut as it used to be. Here's a challenge for our readers in the comments, try to explain the difference between Windows Live and MSN now.
Here is what Rob Wolf, who is responsible for marketing the various Windows Live/MSN shopping products, has to say:
"Windows Live Shopping Beta was launched as a technology showcase that paired the vast selection of MSN Shopping with some of the user interface enhancements provided by Windows Live services – Live gadgets, drag and drop, dynamic pages, etc.
This test enabled the shopping team to glean valuable insight into user behavior. These learnings are being incorporated into the team’s plans for future products. User-created content from Windows Live Shopping Beta (lists, guides, and reviews) will continue to be available on MSN Shopping.
MSN Shopping was and will continue to be the flagship product of our team. It receives the vast majority of user traffic and is the target of all on and off network promotion."