MediaFile

Microsoft’s msnNOW targets hot news, gossip

February 16, 2012

Microsoft’s MSN portal, like Yahoo’s, is finding it tough to compete with Facebook and Twitter as people’s first port of call on the Internet.

The software giant is looking to grab back some buzz and appeal to younger users with a new service that delivers a snapshot at any minute of the day on news stories, people and topics that are most popular on the web.

The product, branded ‘msnNOW’, launches on Thursday at now.msn.com, and will be integrated into items on Microsft’s main MSN site.

It takes data from Microsoft’s own Bing search engine to find out what people are searching for, and mixes in results from Facebook (which Microsoft owns a small part of) and Twitter to get a hold on what links are being exchanged.

Editors at MSN will then sort out the results — filtering out the fake death rumors that spread so quickly on Twitter — to give a ranking of news stories and hot topics and point out resources to find out more on a particular subject.

The service is aimed primarily at younger users, who are accustomed to fast-moving data flows, said Bob Visse, MSN’s general manager. But it may also serve as a useful tool for news junkies and media professionals who want to keep track of hot news, he added.

The service has a mobile app and is also accessible via a reader app on Facebook.

Microsoft is hoping the new service will pump up page views on its sites, which collectively are the third most-visited in the United States, behind Google and Yahoo, but still ahead of Facebook.

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