This is another sign that the company is focusing on other strategies in the country. The decision comes today, but the seeds were sewn in 2015 when Microsoft collaborated with Chinese web provider Baidu to make the service the default search (negating Bing) and homepage (negating) MSN for the Edge browser in China.
This strategy was an acknowledgment by Microsoft that its internet (or indeed most western providers) services were not popular compared to Chinese homegrown alternatives.
Aside from this, Redmond says it is shuttering MSN in China to focus on other avenues in the country, including software and services for Windows 10 and the company's ever growing cloud ambitions. This is more than face saving from Microsoft, the company has been working towards this goal, including the development of a Chinese specific version of Windows 10.
MSN was launched in China 11 years ago in a partnership with Shanghai Alliance Investment, it was a first of its kind collaboration for Microsoft. Explaining its decision to pull MSN, an email from the company read:
“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.”
Microsoft has a presence in China, with the company's R&D center for the entire Asia-Pacific region located in the country's capital, Beijing. As one of the leaders in cloud services, China represents a huge frontier to be conquered and the cloud provider that cracks the market first will have huge potential for growth.
In some aspects this mirrors the mobile market, where companies are fighting to dominate China, something Microsoft has largely failed to do.
Cloud is of course different with the company the market leader through its Azure cloud platform, and already Microsoft has 60,000 corporate cloud clients in China.