Microsoft today previewed the latest version of its MSN Web Communities, which has been designed to enable consumers to create and share personalised information online.
The idea is that consumers will use the Communities area to easily create interactive Web sites to communicate with each other, be it fixures for their local football club or swap information with families across continents, including photos and real time chat.
“The idea is that consumers can create their own personalised space without having to understand the complexities of HTML,” Nicki Smith, product manager for the consumer and commerge group at Microsoft said.
Smith claims that the Web Communities has ramped up 3,000 communties at beta stage.
“It really has captured consumer’s imaginations,” she said.
MSN will slowly close down its own Web Communities in favour of the consumer created communities, because it believes that those generated by members are richer and more vibrant. The software giant expects the transition to take several weeks.
Members of the communities can talk real time in chat rooms, post messages, files and links onto Web pages. A separate “my communities” page provides members with a snapshot of recent activity in each of their communities without the need to log onto them individually.
To enter Web Communties consumers have to register for a passport, which gives them one name and password. Once signed into their passport they can create a community or join exisiting ones.
The communities are self policing: “It would be an impossible job to monitor so we expect members to report anything to us that they find is offensive” said Smith.
Microsoft is making the Web Communities available in 23 languages.
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