Microsoft is taking aggressive action to be your go-to source for news and information. Revealed today, Microsoft Start is a news aggregator that consists of a personalized feed and other information tailored to each user.
The successor to MSN and Microsoft News, Microsoft Start will begin rolling out today as a standalone website and mobile app (on Android and iOS), and will be built into the Windows 10 Taskbar, Windows 11 Widgets feature, and Microsoft Edge as a new tab.
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Using machine learning and AI, Microsoft Start is designed to present topics relevant to individual users while human moderators work to ensure stories come from reliable sources. The feed, which gets smarter about learning your interests the more you use it, curates content from "over a thousand global premium publishing brands." It isn't all automatic, though; users can manually manage their interests and flag sites they do or don't like.
I've been playing with the standalone website since it went live this morning, and have found it to contain interesting and relevant news. MLB scores were shown on a right-side panel (although MLS or Bundesliga would've been more apt for me), just below the weather for my local area and stock prices.
At the top is a "Top Stories" section with six featured articles above a grid of individual cards, each with a background image and headline. It was nice to see a mix of local and national news, but the feed is poorly organized and contained links to obnoxious slideshows from publishers I've never visited. Fortunately, pressing an icon on these cards lets you see more or fewer stories within the same topic and gives you the option to hide the publisher.
There is a separate settings page where you can get more granular. For example, I added "Soccer" to my feed and the MLB card changed to MLS. I couldn't, however, pick a specific league, so it's a good thing I'm among the 12 people who watch American soccer. Your personalized feed will follow you when switching from your laptop to your phone where you can access Microsoft Start via an iOS or Android app.
Microsoft Start faces tough competition in this space from direct rivals like Google and Apple along with third-party news aggregators like Flipboard. But it doesn't need to find new customers — Microsoft already has billions of users across Windows and Edge and will use Start as a way to show consumers that these platforms aren't lacking any major features.