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Microsoft applies lipstick to MSN butterfly

Bigger, fewer wings

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With Windows Live and Bing, Microsoft's MSN butterfly has had its wings ripped from it in recent years

MSN was once the flagship of Microsoft's online aspirations, led by the familiar butterfly logo introduced in 2000. The effort spanned search and advertising, Hotmail, Messenger, shopping, and maps, while serving content such as news. MSN and its butterfly attracted millions of users.

Even though MSN was one of the first such online services, it wasn't enough and Microsoft's flapping and indecision allowed others to rake in money and build market share during those important early web years.

The punishment: Hotmail, Messenger, and Web 2.0 maps went to Windows Live while Bing is the multimillion-dollar focus for search and shopping. Other ventures, such as the MSN Explorer browser, were consigned to the dustbin of history long ago.

Yet the MSN butterfly refuses to die. Indeed, Microsoft looks like it's about to give MSN yet another makeover, perpetuating its bifurcated web strategy.

Microsoft is reported to have just filed an application for an updated butterfly brand with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in a document uncovered by blogger Long Zheng.

The new butterfly is bigger than the current logo, but the filing does not include colors. We should assume, however, that Microsoft will fall back on its standard blues, greens, reds, and yellows.

With the applications and services now with Windows Live and Bing, that leaves MSN holding content: MSN is big in markets around the world as a portal for news, forums, and other services.

It seems that the new logo will herald a new attempt to relaunch and reposition MSN and its butterfly, this time as a home for things you want to read and view. ®

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