I recently started reading the Microsoft Monitor weblog written by Joe Wilcox of Jupiter Research. His blog joins the likes those of Miguel De Icaza and Jon Udell who I can be assured will write a fairly insightful commentary on Microsoft technology announcements. The big difference is that Jon and Miguel occassionally write about Microsoft technologies while Joe Wilcox does so all the time.

In a recent post entitled MSN's Rising Fortune  Joe Wilcox writes

It's strange in a way how fortunes can change, even in a company as large as Microsoft. For years, the MSN folks would be the brunt of jokes, for living on "the red"--as in money-losing--side of the Microsoft campus. And MSN lost money for more than seven straight years. But, under the leadership of Yusuf Mehdi, fiscal 2004 brought the division to profitability. And to prominence.

Consider that today Microsoft will hold a second teleconference on the MSN desktop search utility, this one for financial analysts. I can't recall the last time a MSN technology warranted a teleconference for Wall Street. Sure, search competition with Google is a reason. But today's call is another sign of MSN's growing importance to the broader Microsoft.

While the client division whacks away at Windows security problems, chucks features from Longhorn and readies the next-generation operating system's delivery for not 2005 but 2006, MSN chugs out a barrage of new consumer products. Just in the last few months, MSN has unleashed testing versions of a music store (now officially launched), overhauled IM client, blogging service, Web search service and now desktop search utility. More MSN goodies are coming, but I can't discuss them right now.

My only nitpick with his post is that he seems to have gotten the MSN organizational chart a little confused. Reading the list of Microsoft executives it states that Yusef Mehdi is the Corporate Vice President, MSN Information Services & Merchant Platform while David Cole is the Senior Vice President, MSN and Personal Services Group.

MSN can be broadly divided into information services (aka IS) which is all the content related stuff like the MSN.com webpage, MSN Music as well as MSN Search and communication services (CS) which are all the communication related apps such as Hotmail, MSN Spaces and MSN Messenger. Yusef's runs the IS side of the house while Blake Irving is the Corporate Vice President, MSN Communication Services and Member Platform Group. David Cole sits at the top of the MSN pile.

I just learned all this when I got here a couple of weeks ago. :)