Surprise: Microsoft News is a Success

Posted on October 8, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Bing + MSN, Mobile, iOS, Android, iPadOS, Windows 10 with 32 Comments

Microsoft says that its News service has 550 million monthly users and has generated $1 billion in “sustainable” revenue for the industry.

“In 2014, we stopped creating original content for MSN to focus exclusively on licensing, curating, and promoting content from publishers across the news industry,” Microsoft’s Taroon Mandhana writes. “Our model was—and is—simple. License content from our worldwide community of over 4,500 media brands. Use a mix of algorithms and human insight to combine and curate that content into news feeds that power our experiences on the web, desktop, and mobile. [And] integrate high-quality advertising and share revenue with our publishing partners.”

6 years later, Microsoft’s Mandhana says, the firm has shared over $1 billion with a community of over 4,500 global news publishing partners. He claims that Microsoft News is the number one “desktop news service,” by which I assume he means its use in Windows 10, though that is technically a mobile app as well. And that Microsoft News reaches over 550 million people every month in 180 countries and in 31 languages across—wait for it—“MSN, Bing News, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Launcher, the Windows lock screen, apps for Windows, iOS, and Android, and popular third-party mobile OEMs, mobile carriers, and browsers.”

Looking ahead, Microsoft is working to leverage AI “to drive faster and more complete investigative reporting,” help newsrooms modernize with “data journalism,” reinvent its apps for new device form factors, and expand its News platform to include news and content for emerging verticals, including eSports.

“Most importantly, we’re deeply investing in our core platform and distribution partnerships to ensure that our publishing partners’ world-class content can reach more people, on more devices, in more languages and geographies than ever before,” Mandhana says.

Additionally, Microsoft announced an effort to help journalists with the tools, technologies, and even funding that they need to survive in today’s world.

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Comments (32)

32 responses to “Surprise: Microsoft News is a Success”

  1. helix2301

    Paul is this tied to Microsofts Advertising business? Our company got fed up with Google and their game of keep changing the rules on adwords. We started advertising on all of Bings networks and have seen a pretty good return on investment. I think part of that is bigger fish in a smaller pond effect maybe.

    But I could see ads coming up in posts on Microsoft News. Apple News app is great but they are not monetizing it with ads from what they have said.

    • mattbg

      In reply to helix2301:

      I pay for Apple News+ and get ads in native (non-web) articles and believe I have seen them in the app itself at times, so they do have ads. I don't know if it's Apple or the publisher that benefits, however. The ads are nowhere near as intrusive as the ads on a typical news web page, so I can live with it.

  2. feedtheshark

    I started using it this year, it's pretty decent. But the comments section were being overrun by Trump and right wing trolls until a month ago. Looked like a Russian lead campaign, constantly posting propaganda and lies. MS finally shut the comments down last month. Crazy to think Microsoft couldn't control that.

  3. bbold

    Love me some Microsoft News! Well deserved. Its a great app.. in all its forms. It's literally the ONE app I use multiple times per day on all my devices. IMHO.. Looks and works best spanned across both screens on the new Surface Duo.

  4. DavidSlade

    Wow, MS pays the content providers? This will be big news in Australia where Google and Facebook are about to be forced to pay news organizations for news content, and Google and Facebook are threatening to block news content instead.

  5. Pbike908

    I am a big fan on the Microsoft News app. I use it on my Windows laptop. Android Phone, and Tablet. My other go to news site is the BBC which also has a wonderful app on Android and IOS.

  6. ommoran

    I'm one of the ones that really likes the app, but I wish there were two features:

    1) the ability to ignore individual news sources (click 3-dots on article, ignore source).

    2) the ability to have articles "expire" after x days - some of my interests don't get a lot of news, so I see the same headline for a week or two.

    Other than that, I've used it for about 5 years and love it. I wish MS would port their Weather app from Android to iOS as well!

  7. solomonrex

    I had switched a year ago, got annoyed (I'm old, it happens) and switched back to Google News. Which then spammed me notifications for no Earthly reason, so I guess I'm back baby! Timely article for me, at least.

    I do think their selection is slightly worse, BUT MS is less annoying and intrusive AND Apple News is also in the crapper with all their lousy 'News+' links. It's become just an ad for more subscriptions. Really awful.

  8. winner

    There's a Microsoft news?

  9. yoshi

    Do they make money each time they tell you to download the mobile News app? Because judging from how many times I see that when I try to use the desktop app, they would have $1 billion per day from it.

  10. bleeman

    I originally liked Microsoft News but have pretty much given up on it. As others have said, too many click-bait links. And when they aren't click-bait links they more times than not you're taken to a paywall site. Because of a recent purchase of a pair of USB to Lightning Apple cables at Best Buy I received a 4 month free subscription to Apple News. So far I like it a lot better than Microsoft News and I'm not a big Apple fan (I only own an iPad Mini as I couldn't find something comparable for Windows). At least with the items that interest me I have found less click-bait articles and so far haven't bumped into any paywalls. If it continues to meet my needs my only issue would be not being able to use it on my Windows systems (One of the things I dislike about Apple. Wish it would follow Microsoft's current approach making its software available on as many platforms as possible).

  11. rmlounsbury

    I want to use Microsoft News as my main news aggregator but it always feels like it surfaces the least relevant news and has the worst controls for managing that feed of news. Maybe I'm missing something with the app/settings or I need to go to the browser based site to manage things.

    I keep coming back wanting it to work for me. But, I usually come away disappointed and fall back to Google News. I'd still like to see Microsoft Launcher make the left most home screen more relevant by serving up a similar experience to the Pixel Launcher but let you select the news source. Whether it be Google News, Microsoft News, NYT, etc... that would be a pretty fantastic addition to MS Launcher.

  12. swiftress

    Microsoft News, at least on the desktop, is a forest of worthless click-bait.

  13. tboggs13

    My biggest complaint are all the ads to the junk click sites. It is my kryptonite to want to find out about number 6 and why I won't believe it, or how that cast member looks today. if spammers ever caught on to this their phishing would be much more effective against me. I know better, but yet I still click.

    • supermarkert

      In reply to tboggs13:

      "junk click sites" is my biggest problem with Google News, too. So many garbage websites (some of them literal copies of each other) seem to always be featured on Google News. For a company like Google, their spam detection in News is terrible. Was hoping MS news would make me want to switch.

  14. christianwilson

    I go back and forth between Microsoft News and Apple News. I want to stick with Microsoft News because it works across my iPhone as well as my ThinkPad, but for whatever reason, I continually get better results with Apple News. Maybe it has something to do with the topics I follow, though they aren't Apple-centric by any means.

    I continue to use both services, but I find myself spending more time with Apple News.

    • Calibr21

      In reply to christianwilson:

      Apple news was ok. Now 1/2 of the articles it presents me are news plus articles behind their paywall. I hate seeing an interesting headline and not being able to read it over and over.

      • mattbg

        In reply to Calibr21:

        I see it a bit differently. I’m a subscriber and it exposes the value of subscribing. They are gradually increasing the premium sources and now I’m able to read more and more content that would have required a separate subscription (that I would not have been able to justify buying) in the past.

  15. aemond

    I personally love this news app. :)

  16. markg

    Microsoft News also has a top notch experience on the Surface Duo which has resulted in me using more than I have on any other device previously.

  17. j5

    I've been using the Microsoft News app on my iPhone and desktop for the past couple years and I think it's really good. I think Google News has ruled this space for an aggregate news app at first and for a while. But Microsoft News is catching up to it. I do wish it showed and you could navigate to easier, all the categories that you're interested. I think Google News app looks more polished. But not so much that MS News isn't usable. I've been using the desktop app pretty much every day since working from home now too. As a Windows user, for now, it's nice to be using apps made from Microsoft I think. The Apple News just bad. It feels and looks like those messy third party news apps. But overall the Microsoft News mobile and desktop apps are a solid choice if you don't want to use Google News or some no name news app.

  18. Rob_Wade

    The big problem I have with Microsoft New--and pretty much all aggregators--is they heavy liberal bias. I would LOVE to have just one news aggregator that's totally non-partisan that pulls together actual journalism. Just reporting the facts....and checking them...on EVERYONE. As yet, I don't believe such a thing exists.