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Chinese MSN users hope for clarity, stability

By Shun Yu (Global Times)

10:45, November 13, 2012

Microsoft has confirmed that it is to close down its Windows Live Messenger (MSN) in 2013 and users will be pushed to switch over to its Skype chat software. However, the Chinese mainland is excluded from this halt to MSN services. This reform of MSN is a renaissance for users.

As an instant message tool, MSN has long been secondary in China to Tencent QQ, another instant message software which boosts the largest number of users and attracts more loyalty from users than MSN in the Chinese mainland.

MSN has tried to innovate to attract business elites and differentiate itself enough to be competitive. But its strategy, without enough consideration of localization for the Chinese market, failed to achieve its objectives.

In the Internet era when everything solid is melting into air, reform is a good move. The Internet produces businesses that develop rapidly, and has created many unexpected innovations. An outdated instant message tool will be surpassed by new creations such as Facebook and Twitter, and its room for survival is narrow.

I'm positive about this reform of MSN. Whatever it is named afterward, Skype or UniLive, is not important. What matters is that Microsoft respects its past users and makes them feel that the reform offers integration and innovation, rather than abandoning them.

As we have expected, some users worry that this reform may hinder their contacts with friends overseas. I believe Microsoft will be bothered by users' concerns for a while.

Many users, after hearing the news of the halt of MSN, feel depressed. They think it is a mandatory move by Microsoft, as happened last year when it closed the MSN Space service.

I believe a technological reform is definitely a good move, while the core is to care about its users. As long as Microsoft is willing to communicate with users, technology is not a problem. Such a reform by Microsoft is aimed at maintaining its user base, including the hundreds of millions of MSN fans.

Therefore, Microsoft should detail its technology to users so as to eliminate their doubts. As long as it makes sure different technologies are compatible, its users will support such technological integration.

Microsoft offers a transition period for Chinese users because of their usage habits, which do not include such high acceptance of platform change as foreign users. Only by putting users' interest and feelings first can Microsoft win public applause. Otherwise its move might be a failure.

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