Microsoft is Adding a News Feed to Windows 10 For Some Reason

Posted on January 6, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 67 Comments

Microsoft is giving Windows 10 users yet another feature they can disable until it’s discontinued in a few years: A news and interests feed on the taskbar. Right. I don’t know why either.

Based on the provided screenshots, this news feed appears to look and work like the bastard child of the Sidebar from Windows Vista and the Start menu from Windows 10, with tiles representing headlines, weather, stock prices, and the like. It’s accessible from yet another button to the left of the system notification area at the far right of the taskbar, where it takes up valuable on-screen real estate.

“You can personalize your feed with relevant content tailored for you,” Microsoft notes of the feature, which seems like a ghost of Creators Updates past. “Instead of switching between apps or your PC and phone to stay up to date with the news and interests you care about, [you can] seamlessly peek into your feed directly from the taskbar anytime you want throughout your day.”

For those concerned about privacy, Microsoft also says that this feature uses the Microsoft Edge controls for limiting (but not disabling) tracking from advertisers and third parties. And you can, of course, disable this feature.

Which I assume most people will.

Anyway, this feature is now available in a new build in the Windows 10 Insider Preview Dev channel, meaning that it may never appear in Windows anyway. Cross your fingers.

Also, check out the original Microsoft post for more info.

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Comments (67)

67 responses to “Microsoft is Adding a News Feed to Windows 10 For Some Reason”

  1. j5

    Wasn't there a Windows news bar/gadget thing released last year? Is this the "evolution" of that?

  2. navarac

    More unnecessary rubbish. Another reason to abandon Windows for me. Just another MS advert vehicle. Don't get me started on MSN - as a non-US citizen, I don't need American type News feeds - they are all biased crap. (Look to your election in November for an example).

  3. rickeveleigh

    'feature they can disable until it’s discontinued in a few years' -- love this opening!

  4. red.radar

    After using linux for a few months, when I returned to windows I was taken back at how “loud” the experience is. Upon install everything is sending a notification for my attention. I suppose it’s expected from an OS marketed to a very broad audience with varied technical literacy.

    Once I can get VFIO figured out so I can pass a graphics card to a VM. Windows is relegated to a “Rosetta” like layer on my Linux box.

    I just want a stable OS not an experience.

  5. PanamaVet

    It's an opportunity to push a political agenda along with ads of course. DOA

  6. spiderman2

    the idea is nice and also you can easily disable it, the only problem is another slow, heavy and unreliable web view.

    also introduce a security issue, you can easily inject malicious content in a webview

  7. crp0908

    Great. Another distraction to take away my attention from what I would actually use Windows for - productivity. At least it can be disabled. Hopefully it can be uninstalled and/or we can fully opt out of it.

  8. webdev511

    Or they could leave it as a live tile, just sayin'.

  9. mmcpher

    Oh, so I bring the same horrific curation featured in Chredge's "Informational" new page tab? Who doesn't want to increase their daily ad carpet-bombing! Hopefully every linked article will require new subscriptions which will follow me everywhere like head lice.

  10. lewk

    This seems like just the feature that's quick and easy to build for Microsoft, to include with a throw-away "21H1" update that they can point at as a new feature. When it's really just a cumulative update roll-up.

  11. btrproducer

    So long as they don't infest it with ads (which it's MS, so they invariably will) this is actually a feature I would quite like to use. Presently, I always have a tab or two of news open in Edge (MS News app is kinda useless here in Australia), so provided I can pick my sources, and it works as intended, this would be quite useful.

    Only thing I don't like is it taking up taskbar real estate. Why can't they just take the next logical step, and allow you to pin Live Tiles onto the desktop? Then you could pin the News and Weather tiles and get this same feature.

  12. jdawgnoonan

    I don't like disruptive news feeds or widgets on screens on my phone and I won't want them in Windows either. They should work to improve notifications in Windows, there is a lot of work that could be done there to make them more useful or less disruptive, but instead they give me a feature that will in no way make me more productive. I prefer that if I want to be distracted I choose to pick up my phone.

  13. waethorn

    *sits back*

    Yup, LTSC lookin' good right now.

  14. ghostrider

    MS still trying to shoehorn phone-type features into the desktop version I see. Yep, one to avoid, and what a staggering waste of space!

  15. falonyn

    The main thing I am waiting for is for Paul's headline: Windows is bringing fluent UI throughout the entire OS, Finally bringing a consistentency to Windows that has been missing since Windows 8.

    But this is fine.

  16. VancouverNinja

    In reply to SvenJ:

    I have not paid attention to this. I really don't get upset with new features. I either use them or I don't. I would hazard a guess there is solid line of reasoning why they are trying this; to me not having to grab my phone when I am working at my PC to access data is superior. I hope they find the right implementation. Phones are only good for mobile use, when in a home or office being able to access apps and information is superior on PCs and should be just as accessible as on a small screen device.

  17. TroyTruax

    It's OK Microsoft. Live tiles only make sense on a phone and you don't do that anymore. Please don't feel like you need to come up with a solution for this, we've moved on. The news apps on my phone do a dandy job of sending alerts multiple times a day (including yours), I'm good.

  18. JerryH

    I wanted to see this on my machines so that I can dig in and find out if there is a supported way to turn it off using Intune. But I don't have it available on either of my Dev channel machines. One runs Windows Enterprise, but the other is just pure Pro with nothing but home user stuff on it. I meet the requirements (being in the US, on 21286, etc.) but nothing yet. I have a strong suspicion that this will be another "oh, there is a GPO to turn it off, but we didn't get around to creating a way to turn it off with Intune yet..."

  19. jfgordon

    "yet another feature they can disable until it’s discontinued in a few years"

    Genius – 15 years of software history in half a sentence.

  20. justme

    This is intended to be part of the OS? As long as I can turn it off/disable it.

    Why would you not instead make this an app in the Store? You could even make it an app installed by default. That way, those that like it can have it, and those that dont can uninstall and not bother with it.

  21. tghallin

    Has this article generated the most comments ever? Probably not, but quite a few. Android has always had a screen to the left of the home page where you swipe over to to get your news (Google or Samsung on my devices). This seems like an attempt at something similar. The problem with Windows is that it needs to work similarly with both a touch and pointer interface (a simple swipe left isn't an option}. For me and maybe a lot of people, live tiles are never seen since I only have the start menu open when I am going to open a program. BTW, you can do something similar today if you lock Microsoft News to the taskbar.

    • Paul Thurrott

      I assume it's obvious that Android, a mobile OS primarily used on phones, and Windows, a desktop OS used only on PCs, are completely different platforms. There's no reason they need all of the same features.
      • tghallin

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        I agree. Not only different use cases, but also different UI. That's why I loved live tiles on my Lumia 1020 (and widgets on my Android phones), but never use or miss them on my desktop (really a docked laptop) with multiple big screens. Totally different uses for me.

        And when I want my Microsoft news on my PC, I will either get it in Edge or manually open the app. But most of the time I will have already swiped on my phone and scrolled through my Google feed. My wife on the other hand who rarely carries her phone will have opened Edge and seen the news on her home screen. Neither of us will use the new taskbar feature.

  22. chrishilton1

    It's because apple have it on ipad, also annoying

  23. scovious

    What a cool optional feature to find a way to use some of that taskbar real estate. I wonder if they will make it on by default?

  24. bart

    Isn't this a way for Microsoft to test Windows 10X features out in the open? Check usage / responses by users? Hard to imagine this would be made available for any Enterprise.

  25. Patrick3D

    If it feeds off Bing and gives me my stock prices and the weather I'll use it daily, if it gives me headlines from CNN, The New York Times, MSNBC, it's getting disabled immediately.

  26. tfinch

    Not a fanboy or anything, just piping up to say that the MSN news app is great and one I always have open, so I'm actually pretty jazzed about this. Glad people can turn it off, of course, but as we learned recently, there are a lot of people to use and like the MSN news feeds.

  27. thejoefin

    This is a very unexpected feature to see come to Windows, but I hope this means there is a new API for building app experiences on the Taskbar. There are a lot of traditional desktop application possibilities there. The current way to do this still uses Windows XP in the documentation!

  28. VancouverNinja

    I see nothing wrong with this. Why must Windows not be allowed to add consumer or mobile features? Afterall most of the world uses Windows Paul. Also Microsoft is correcting the "Mobile First" mantra that has keep applications off PCs effectively forcing the whole world to have no or very limited access to their favorite apps on PCs. This is long overdue.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Cluttering up the Windows UI with unnecessary crap is ... long noverdue? Someone didn't get the memo.
      • VancouverNinja

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        I think there is divide between the users of this site and average consumers. Windows works for both. Windows, as much as other OSs, has it positives and negatives but this should not stop the OS from growing out to support all the needs of its users. So yes Paul; these features are long overdue and Microsoft needs to have a stronger focus on delivering the same level of consumer services on Windows 10 as their users are experiencing on mobile devices today - this is the largest issue facing Windows in my opinion.

        • Paul Thurrott

          This is the historic problem with Windows, really, that it has to serve such disparate user types. What's needed---and this was part of Windows many years ago---is a screen during Setup where you choose optional components. There could be preset packages for consumers and powwer users, or whatever. But some way for advanced/power users to get a minimal amount of crap and average consumers to choose what they get.
          • VancouverNinja

            In reply to paul-thurrott:

            I think that is an excellent idea.

            Windows has a much more more difficult road to satisfy all of it's users - and the IT guys are just brutal at times ;-).We are seeing this renewed focus as their first priority, over the last 5-7 years, was simply to ensure the survival and viability of Office and then Windows; they had to get though the handheld Mobile computing revolution they lost. It's clear they have pretty much done this. Now they can afford to come back around and start to be more competitive for consumer services. I think this has been their plan from day one and they are simply executing on it now.

            So we will see more of this stuff, which will probably upset the IT guys, however maybe they end up with a solution similar to your suggestion Paul. Fingers crossed.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to VancouverNinja:

          Windows works for both.

          That's the problem: made for all, tailored for none. The Tube Socks of OSes.

          I understand letting users make their own customizations, but for things like this, I prefer right-click settings to disable loading on start/login AND exit rather than hiding the taskbar icon. If I'm never going to use it, really & truly never want to see it, then I don't want it using any system resources, ideally not even unopened files on disk.

          In other words, don't clutter Windows with more cruft, make it an offering in the MSFT Store. I'd go further and say it's time to eliminate WordPad as a bundled applet, or at least include it in optional features like the Telnet client and Windows Fax & Scan. Let me disable everything I'd prefer disabled at that level, and I'd be a much happier customer.

    • wright_is

      In reply to VancouverNinja:

      They should work on getting Windows 10 working properly and consistently, before adding daft stuff like this. By all means, put it in the Store, but not in core Windows.

    • jchampeau

      In reply to VancouverNinja:

      What is Windows Paul? I remember Microsoft Bob. Is Paul Bob’s unruly older half-brother?

    • anoldamigauser

      In reply to VancouverNinja:

      If by consumer or mobile features you mean a way to generate ad revenue, then sure, this is fine.

  29. sherlockholmes

    What sane mind would add that kind of shit to Windows 10? Thank god I use Windows 10 Enterprise. Hopefully it wont show up here.

  30. glenn8878

    Disable? I can't disable my ads feed.

    • spiderman2

      In reply to glenn8878:

      you can disable this one with just a right click

      • PanamaVet

        In reply to spiderman2:

        Can you disable? They will certainly kill this project if it cannot generate income.

        Consider Google's instructive approach:


        To launch Google Buzz, the company went straight to Gmail. Every user was sent a message announcing the launch and was given two options: “Sweet! Check out Buzz,” and “Nah, go to my inbox.”

        In both cases, FTC found, Google has misled its users and did so violating its own privacy policy. What’s interesting, the violation was observed in both cases. When the users pressed “Nah…” they “were nonetheless enrolled in certain features of the Google Buzz social network”. When they pressed “Sweet!” “they were not adequately informed that the identity of individuals they emailed most frequently would be made public by default”. 

        And even if the poor users chose the third option “Turn Off Buzz”, FTC found that it “did not fully remove the user from the social network”. 

  31. a_lurker

    Why do I have a feeling this is likely shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic? Add features to Windows is mostly a pointless effort now. What needs to be done is cleaning up Windows and making more consistent and well behaved.

  32. jchampeau

    Mary Jo mentioned recently that they’re looking to increase ad revenue, so maybe they plan to sell ads in between the headline tiles.

  33. bluvg

    "yet another feature they can disable until it’s discontinued in a few years"

    Spot on! ???

  34. sansbozo

    This capability already exists by pinning the Microsoft News, Weather, and Sports apps to the Windows Start Menu as live tiles.

  35. illuminated

    Microsoft is doing too much pointless shuffling around with the start menu. From windows7 I only use the search function and shutdown hotkeys. There is just too much installed software for start menu to be useful.

  36. jeroendegrebber

    Maybe this is the kind of silly mindset that SNL was making fun of with the gay robot presentation ?

    If so, SNL called it in 2017 :-)

  37. remc86007

    I don't hate this idea. This makes more sense than live tiles to me.

    Paul, I still don't understand your viewpoint on Windows. You seem to both argue against any effort to add features to Windows and complain that Windows is not enough of a focus for Microsoft.

    • theotherguy

      "This makes more sense than live tiles to me."

      I don't get how that's the case? It seems to just be the live part of live tiles stripped from the start menu and moved to another section. So now instead of just going to the start menu to launch something and get a quick overview of certain things, you now have a specific place for it.

      MS's problem is that they didn't flesh out Live Tiles on the start menu, or make it useful enough.

      If they want to add feed widgets, why not make them available in the start menu instead of a new bit on the taskbar. The only different thing it seems to offer is more wasted space on the taskbar so you can see the weather constantly updated... because that's super useful.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to remc86007:

      I think Paul’s concern is about what Microsoft is focused on with regards to Windows. Rather than adding new features with minimal benefit (this content feed is already available simply by clicking on the Edge icon), Microsoft could focus on fit, finish, and consistency; these are things that could make Windows better for everyone.

  38. winner

    "Free" Windows 10. Their new advertising platform.

    After all, Google has a web search site and a news feed. So Microsoft needs to have a web search site and a news feed.

  39. jeffferguson

    I would have voted for leaving anything UI-related out of Windows until we get whatever we're getting out of the Sun Valley update. No need to put in a possibly-outdated UI this close to getting something new.

  40. carl.goette

    One thing I love about my Android phone is the left edge swipe that brings up a news feed. That news feed adapts to my interest. Just scrolling through I see stories on Raspberry Pi, CPUs, soccer, some tv shows I watch, etc. If Microsoft can present a relevant to my interests story list this will be a nice addition for me.

  41. yoshi

    I'm pretty sure there's an empty plot next to 'My People' just waiting for this.

  42. dougkinzinger

    Funniest article headline yet!