Microsoft launches a personalized news service, Microsoft Start – TechCrunch

Microsoft today is presenting your own personalized news reading experience called Microsoft Start, available as a website and mobile app, as well as being integrated with other Microsoft products, including Windows 10 and 11 and your Microsoft Edge web browser. The feed will combine content from news publishers, but in a way that is tailored to individual user interests, the company says: a personalization system that could help Microsoft better compete with the news reading experiences they offer. rivals like Apple or Google. like popular third party apps like Flipboard or SmartNews.

Microsoft says the product builds on the company’s heritage with online and mobile consumer services such as MSN and Microsoft News. However, it will not replace MSN. That service will continue to be available, despite the launch of this new internal competitor.

To use Microsoft Start, consumers can visit the separate website, which works on both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge (but not Safari), or you can download the Microsoft Start mobile app for iOS or Android.

The service will also boost the News & Interests experience on the Windows 10 taskbar and the Widgets experience on Windows 11. In Microsoft Edge, it will also be available on the New Tab page.

Image credits: Microsoft

At first glance, the Microsoft Start website looks a lot like any other online portal that offers a collection of news from a variety of publishers, along with widgets for things like weather, stocks, sports scores, and traffic. When you click to read an article, you are taken to a syndicated version hosted on Microsoft’s domain, which includes the Microsoft Start top navigation bar at the top and emoji reaction buttons below the title.

Users can also React to stories with emojis while browsing the home page.

This set of emojis is similar to what Facebook offers today, except that Microsoft has replaced Facebook’s controversial smiley face emoji with a thinking face. (It’s worth noting that Facebook’s laughing face has been increasingly criticized for being used to openly ridicule posts and poke fun at people, even in stories depicting tragic events, such as Covid deaths, for example).

Microsoft has also made another change to its emoji: After you react to a story with an emoji, you only see your emoji instead of the first three and the total reaction counts.

Image credits: Microsoft

But while online web portals tend to be static aggregators of news content, the Microsoft Start feed will cater to users’ interests in a number of different ways.

Users can click the “Customize” button to access a page where they can manually add and remove interests from various high-level categories, such as news, entertainment, sports, technology, money, finance, travel, health, shopping. , and more. Or they can search for categories and interests that could be more specific or more specific. (Instead of “parenting,” for example, “teen parenting”). This remembers the recent update Flipboard created on its own home page, the For You feed, which allows users to make similar decisions.

As users begin to navigate the Microsoft Start font, they can also click a button to approve or reject an article to better match the font to their preferences. Over time, the more the user interacts with the content, the better the feed is refined, Microsoft says. This customization will take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as human moderation, the company notes.

The feed, like other online portals, is ad-supported. As you scroll down, you will notice that every few rows it will present an ad unit, where the URL is marked with a green “Ad” badge. Initially, they mostly appear to be product announcements, which sets them apart from news content. Since Microsoft is not shutting down MSN and is integrating this news feed into a number of other products, it is expanding the available advertising space it can offer with this release.

The website, app, and integrations will roll out starting today. (If you still can’t find the app, you can try scanning the QR code from your mobile device.)

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