Microsoft Revamps MSDN and TechNet

Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008 and Hyper-V are the foundations for the newly revamped MSDN.

Microsoft has revamped its heavily trafficked resource sites for developers and IT professionals.

Word that the company was in the process of overhauling its MSDN site was first reported last month, when officials from Redmond visited user groups to gather feedback from the developer community.

Behind the scenes, however, Microsoft's development team was well into many of the architectural changes that led to last month's launch. In a blog post on May 22, S. "Soma" Somasegar, senior vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division, revealed the new appearance for both MSDN, the company's developer site, and TechNet, the IT professional's content site.

"With the new site redesign, the MSDN and TechNet Web sites will make it easier to discover and participate in these online communities and showcase the insights of the community experts, as well as active technical professionals throughout the world," Somasegar wrote.

Among the key criticisms of MSDN and TechNet was the fact that much of the content was not aggregated and was difficult to find, a complaint that company officials have acknowledged. With the new design, Microsoft is emphasizing the contributions of technical experts and placing a larger focus on forums, Somasegar noted. The initial redesign covers 18 technical and developer resources in seven languages.

But the revamp will be ongoing throughout this year, says Larry Jordan Jr., the product unit manager for the MSDN and TechNet infrastructure and services team overseeing the redevelopment of sites. "We're in the middle of completely redesigning the entire library UX and everything else," Jordan says.

Looking to move away from the static look, the redesign effort has focused on easing visitor authentication -- using Microsoft's LiveID -- and providing more cohesiveness between the various forms of content, forums and libraries, according to Jordan.

"We've really brought a lot of disparate kinds of vertical sites together," he says. "We've managed to bring the community sites and the library and the dev centers and the tech centers and began to start to stitch them together."

The new forums are now live. "We've taken a much more holistic way of looking at the productivity of developers and started to pull that together across the UX," Jordan adds. He also points out that the work was not just cosmetic -- the sites have been re-architected with new hardware and software.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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