I'm a big fan of Google's Personalized Home Page even though I've never been that into personalized home pages before (except that I did have one on MSN back in the late 90's and I used it for about a year until I discovered Google). The nice thing about Google's new personalized page is that it loads fast and the customization is very quick and easy to setup.
Now I've discovered that MSN is basically emulating the personalized Google with Start.com (here's a link to the beta). In fact, Start.com does a pretty good job of emulating Google's stengths — the Start.com page is easy to customize and fast to load. However, I still think it misses the mark. The first drawback is, of course, that's it's limited to the MSN search, which still isn't as good as Google. The other drawback is that it is simply an emulation of what the Google Personalized Page offers. It doesn't really offer anything substantial over what Google offers. If they are going to offer something like this then they should innovate and make it better than Google's version. Otherwise, why would someone like me switch from the Google version — especially when the MSN search technology isn't as good?
I think Yahoo and MSN will eventually catch up with Google on the search technology front, once they throw enough engineers at the issue. However, until they do, they need to do the other ancillary stuff better. Google's implementation of anything is almost always more elegent and easier to use than Yahoo and MSN — and Yahoo and MSN should learn from that — but simply copying Google's window dressing the way Start.com has is not the answer.
Jason Hiner has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.