Microsoft is closing down MSN China, its web portal for the internet censored country. While the company says that it’s doing this to bring down more of its focus on some of its other services, this also marks the end of an 11-year-old legacy for Microsoft in the country.
The signs could have been seen as early as last year, when Microsoft inked a deal with Baidu agreeing to make it the default search provider for Edge users in China. However, Microsoft China finally started notifying users on its MSN China website that it will shut down on June 7, yesterday — I tried looking for the announcement on the website, but was lost in the Chinese language.
Speaking on the topic, a representative of the company told Techcrunch
Microsoft will be shutting down the MSN portal in China on June 7. Microsoft is deeply committed to China, offering a range of products including Windows 10, cloud services to customers, and hosting the largest research and development center outside of the U.S.
Deeply committed is about the right word. Not only is Microsoft’s main R&D center for the Asia-Pacific region based in Beijing, but the company is also known to be building a special version of Windows 10 for use by Chinese government agencies. The company has run into trouble with the Chinese government from time to time — such as over allegation of Outlook being hacked — but the bad times seems to be in the past now.
The company also has a huge following in China — Almost 65,000 corporate customers for Microsoft Azure, as per a recent announcement by the company, in merely two years after its inception in the country. The company is also stepping up its efforts to expand its cloud computing business in China — a move influenced by the fact that local enterprises are increasingly embracing ever new technologies to boost their productivity.
Speaking on the topic, Ralph Haupter, CEO of Microsoft in China said,
Though the GDP growth is slowing down, Chinese companies still need to focus on three points to remain relevant and competitive: innovation, productivity and the return of investments. And cloud computing can help in all of the above three aspects.
Also, various analysts have commented time and again that China’s national strategies, such as boosting high-end manufacturing, will increase demand for cloud services in the future. The company has also been entering into deals with governments and till date, has signed papers with the authorities in over 10 cities and provinces in China.
However in face of such other, more productive avenues that need Microsoft China’s attention and resources, MSN seems to have lost its relevance. Also responsible for its untimely demise are the domestic players that have been cropping up in China and providing a variety of services to the consumers. Tencent’s WeChat, Sina Weibo, and Baidu for example, together supplanted and replaced most of MSN China’s major offerings.
The service, which was formed after a partnership between MSN and Shanghai Alliance Investment will shut down on June 7. Visitors to cn.msn.com page after the date, will see a directory page of Chinese websites along with a Bing search bar.
Well, Zàijiàn MSN China.