Microsoft will close MSN China to focus on selling other services

Microsoft announced today that it will shut down MSN China, its web portal for China, early next month, to focus on products with more revenue potential.

An emailed statement from a company representative said, “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’s main R&D center for the Asia-Pacific region is based in Beijing and the company announced last December that it is building a special version of Windows 10 for use by Chinese government agencies. Microsoft is also currently intent on expanding its cloud computing and enterprise software business in China. It announced last month that it now has 65,000 corporate customers for Microsoft Azure, up from 50,000 about a year ago.

China’s cloud market presents an exciting opportunity–Forrester estimates it will grow to $3.8 billion by 2020, more than double its size in 2015–but Microsoft Azure has to hold its own against competing services from like Alibaba’s cloud unit, Tencent, and Amazon Web Services.

MSN China was launched eleven years ago as a joint venture between MSN (the division of Microsoft that runs internet services like Hotmail, Skype, and Bing) and Shanghai Alliance Investment. It marked the first time that Microsoft had struck a partnership with a company in China to offer mobile Internet services.

Over the last decade, however, various MSN China’s features—including a search engine, news articles, a microblogging platform, and a messaging service—have been supplanted by local players like Tencent’s WeChat, Sina Weibo, and Baidu.

MSN Messenger, which was one of the most popular messaging services in China when MSN China opened, closed there two years ago.