Today, Microsoft announced in an official blog post that its rebranding its MSN and Microsoft News service to Microsoft Start. This “new” news feed aims to provide you with the latest breaking news along with updates on topics you find interesting. While Microsoft News will be entirely replaced with Microsoft Start, MSN will continue as its own separate thing and co-exist alongside Microsoft Start.
Since Microsoft Start is a web-based service, it will be available on a myriad of different platforms:
- As a standalone website (available on only Microsoft Edge and Chrome and NOT Safari) – MicrosoftStart.com
- As a mobile app on both Android and iOS
- From the News and Interests experience on the Windows 10 taskbar
- From the Widgets experience in Windows 11
- From the Microsoft Edge new tab page
Microsoft Start is the proposed savior of the news reading experience from Microsoft, here to save you from following multiple different channels to catch up on current affairs. It is being portrayed as the definitive news service to follow by the company. It supposedly builds upon the 25-year long legacy Microsoft has carried in this field to give you the best experience possible.
The Corporate VP of Microsoft also detailed how the company is using both AI-based algorithms and human moderation to tailor the content to best fit your needs. Microsoft Start is a personalized news feed. That means that everything you see is aimed specifically at you. The more you use the service, the better it will cater to you as it learns from your interests over time.
There are ways you can interact with the news to help the algorithms sort of catalyze this process. Each news card that’s from a publisher can be reacted to via emoji reactions. These reactions are similar to that of Facebook, only the laughing react emoji has been replaced with a thinking one here. And, apart from the emojis, you can also like the articles by clicking on the Like button right next to the emojis. This will help the service better pertain to your preferences.
The Microsoft Start Experience
Like every other news platform, there is a homepage that lays out all the info in the form of cards so that it’s easy to glance over and pick what you want to read. There are native cards for things like the weather, stocks, sporting events, etc., along with the general SEO’d headlines from various different publishers. Clicking on any of the native cards expands it and gives you detailed information on the topic. Whereas, opening a news article will launch a text-based version of the article in Microsoft’s domain.
Some articles that are largely reliant on just text are perfect for this as Microsoft’s distraction-free reader allows you to focus on the words. But, articles where visual media, such as image galleries, are the center-point is where the service fumbles. For example, I opened an article that was trying to discuss multiple different celebrity outfits but in a gallery where each image was accompanied by a caption. Unfortunately, the gallery was nowhere to be found within Microsoft Start’s domain.
Furthermore, in between every few articles, there will be an ad. This is how most news services generate their revenue and this is how Microsoft Start seems to be doing it too. Each card that is an ad has the a green “Ad” badge right next to the URL indicating that it’s an advertisement. Most of these ads seem to be products that Microsoft is advertising so they stand out very clearly among the rest of the cards.
There is a “Personalize” button that takes you to a separate page where you can, well, personalize your news feed. Here, you can select from a bunch of news categories such as Sports, Finance, and Entertainment. Microsoft is essentially putting your feeds in your control so you can personalize it the way you want. Then, there are sub-categories within the high-level options as well. For instance, under Sports you can chose Cricket or Football depending on what you want to see in your feed.
You can also search for news interest and categories but options are quite limited right now. Even if nothing turns up on your search result, you can still save it as a news interest, just in case. Essentially, Microsoft is putting your news feed in your control so you can have a truly unique experience.
Now, with all that said you must be thinking, “Isn’t this just another news service like the hundreds that already exist?” Well, it’s not just another news aggregator that pushes articles from established publishers. There is a real benefit to using Microsoft Start. Thanks to the company’s partnership with several big-name outlets, such as Bloomberg, certain articles that would be hidden behind a paywall are actually accessible for free in Microsoft Start.
These Are Confusing Times
The fact that Microsoft Start, being the replacement to both MSN and Microsoft News, only succeeds the latter while MSN continues to be a thing is confusing. If Microsoft really wanted to start fresh then it should’ve just abolished the MSN feed as well. After all, Microsoft Start is literally just a re-skinned version of Microsoft News which itself is a reskin of MSN News!
But, it appears as if Microsoft wants to cash in by expanding its advertisement real estate as much as possible. If Microsoft were to replace both MSN and Microsoft News then it would have only one service to push ads, whereas, now, they will have two separates ones. Add to that, the Bing search bar that sits on top of the homepage, it’s clear that Microsoft’s main goal here is to push search and advertisement revenue through Bing.
Microsoft Start launched yesterday across mobile and PC devices but it doesn’t need a rollout because it has already been there in the form of, once again, Microsoft and MSN News. The Microsoft News app has been updated with the new logo and is now the Microsoft Start app. Additionally, clicking on any news card inside Windows 10 or 11 will take you to the website anyways, so there is no need for an update.