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Revamped MSN hits SA

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Howzit MSN has brought the revamped MSN for Windows 8 to South Africa, offering users a new experience for the touch and tablet worlds.

Operated by Kagiso Media, Howzit MSN is the South African version of Microsoft’s popular MSN portal and has one of the largest Web audiences in South Africa.

The all-new MSN will be the default homepage for people on Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10. From the updated user interface and blazing fast speed to the comprehensive content and the game-changing features of Windows 8 with Internet Explorer 10, the new look MSN offers a compelling and consistent experience across Windows PCs, tablets and smartphones.

MSN for Windows 8 is a full-screen ‚”app-like‚” experience. Built for touch and featuring the distinct tile interface of Windows 8, the new-look MSN is visually appealing and easy to navigate on any screen size or format. People can also effortlessly swipe through or interact with content at the same time by snapping them side-by-side with features such as Flip Ahead and Snap on Windows 8.

The new MSN for Windows 8 has been optimised for speed with Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8. It takes advantage of hardware acceleration built into Internet Explorer 10 to provide increased image sizes, slide shows, videos and other graphics-intensive content without compromising the overall experience.

Says Marcus Stephens, general manager of Howzit MSN: ‚”The all-new MSN is a big bet on the future with its touch capabilities and uniform look and feel across a range of Windows devices. We are excited about the seamless experience it will offer our customers and the way it will empower us to package our content in a manner that will be enticing for our users.‚”

‚”We will continue to deliver unbiased, comprehensive news and entertainment content from a wide range of world-class sources to our users, but we will be able to present it in a far more intuitive manner with a greatly improved user experience,‚” says Howzit MSN executive producer Steven van Hemert. ‚”This represents the next evolution of the MSN portal, offering a consistent experience across both mobile and Web devices.‚”

Around nine percent of Howzit MSN’s users are on Internet Explorer a number that is constantly growing. ‚”This represents an opportunity for advertisers to claim the high ground in a fast-emerging environment that has potential for fantastic user engagement,‚” says Stephens. The new MSN for Windows 8 will initially be available on the following Howzit MSN channels: News, Sport, Entertainment and Lifestyle. The old look and feel will coexist alongside the Windows 8 experience for users on other platforms.

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Telcos want one face

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The investments that telecommunications service providers are making in reshaping their online properties into customer-centric portals reflects the growing maturity of self-service and Internet uptake in the industry, says KEVIN MELTZER of Consology.

Many telcos around the world are overhauling their websites to offer customers more holistic portals that give them a single point of entry into the organisation.

They are doing so because they recognise that service will be a key point of differentiation for their businesses in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive. They have also realised that they have a major opportunity to shift customers away from expensive contact centres towards low-cost electronic channels.

In the past, most telecommunications operators ran multiple sites across multiple domains and subdomains. These web-based properties were built around the way that telcos structured their own businesses rather than around the needs of the customer. But we are now seeing the leading operators take a more user-centric approach to the way that they design their web and mobile sites.

This coincides with a change in the industry from slicing customers into numerous segments and then serving them across a range of functional and product areas. For example, many operators split customers into prepaid and postpaid segments or voice and data users, distinctions that are becoming less meaningful in a world of technology convergence. They now want to present a single face to the customer rather than servicing the subscriber through silos.

These changes are starting to percolate through to operators’ customer service and sales strategies. Telcos are starting to pull together disparate products and services that once resided across multiple sites into customer service portals.

These sites put a wide range of information at the subscriber’s fingertips, he adds. Increasingly, for example, subscribers can log directly into their accounts from the operator’s homepage and then access a wealth of services and information. This marks an evolution from the fractured and inconsistent customer experience of the past.

Leading operators are even thinking about how their Self-Service platforms should be integrated with social media strategies to allow customers to pay their electronic bills or top up airtime with a single click from within a social network.

Whereas Self-Service portals on telco sites were once purely about account management functions, they increasingly offer far richer functionality. In addition to allowing subscribers to pay their bills and check their account information, they are also increasingly becoming the first stop for service and commerce.

Operators have started to recognise that splintering their e-commerce, service and account management functions simply makes no sense. Customers want to be able to do everything through one interface rather than needing to visit two or three Web sites, or eventually possibly needing to phone a call centre or visit a store for certain transactions.

Integrated and easy to use online customer service channels will be central for telco operators who want to be competitive in the markets of tomorrow. They form an advantage in an industry where it will be customer relationships rather than cost or service that drive loyalty and purchasing decisions.

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Talk for less with MWEB Talk

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Today, MWEB announced its consumer VoIP package called MWEB Talk, which allows users to make free network calls and get discounted rates made to landlines and mobile phones.

MWEB, today launched its new Voice over IP (VoIP) offering to South African consumers. The service, MWEB Talk, will offer users’ free on network calls to fellow MWEB Talk users’ and cheap calls to landline and mobile phone numbers. This follows the success and demand of the ISP’s existing VoIP products in recent months.

‚”We have seen a noticeable transformation in users’ Internet behaviour with consumers wanting services that complement their ADSL connectivity solution. We have seen phenomenal growth and by the end of the year will deliver over 100 million minutes on our VoIP platform,‚” says Carolyn Holgate, General Manager of MWEB Connect, the ISP’s Consumer and Small Office/ Home Office Division.

MWEB has made significant investments in its infrastructure and VoIP has been prioritised on its network to ensure performance and stability of the MWEB Talk service for both businesses and consumers.

‚”In addition to the high quality of the service, MWEB Talk is also simple to set-up and users’ should experience a significant reduction in their telephone bills. By implementing a VoIP service consumers and small businesses can cut their monthly telecommunication bills by up to 55% to landline and mobile numbers,‚” says Holgate.

With no subscription fee, existing MWEB customers can log into their MWEB account, register for the service and download the application for PC and Mac as well as mobile applications that turn an iPhone, Android, and Nokia smartphone into a VoIP phone. Customers will also be able to purchase a Desktop VoIP Handset for R99 which will be HD voice ready and will support multi-extensions.

‚”We believe that VoIP is the future of telephony in South Africa and we are extremely excited to see the consumer market shift into the VoIP space,‚” concludes Holgate.

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