Although we're a bit skeptical about a spokesperson's claim in an email that it's "the first service designed to surface breaking trends from across the Web, show what people are saying about the trends, and why they matter with the help of expert editors," it does add Microsoft's heft to the growing news curation sector.
It also is the latest move in Microsoft's social strategy, which seems to be to act more like a third-party developer than go toe-to-toe with Facebook and Twitter, as Google opted to do when it launched Google+ last summer. On Tuesday, Microsoft launched a social service aimed at helping advertisers display user reviews and recommendations of their products.
Not surprisingly, our first glance of the front page of msnNOW was heavy with entertainment news, which tends to get more of a push on Facebook and Twitter. The righthand column includes "Biggest Movers," which presumably lists the biggest subjects being discussed on the social networks monitored by msnNOW.
"We scour the most interesting trends from real-time sources like Facebook, Twitter, Bing, and BreakingNews.com, so you'll always know what's happening and get the jump on what everyone is talking about," the company said in a blog post announcing the launch. "When we see a hot social conversation or emerging trend, our expert editors provide key insights on why it's trending, if it's true, what people are saying about it and where to find out more."
Microsoft is trying to be oh-so-hip with the release, and it's pretty clear they're targeting a younger demographic. Entertainment news, for example, is listed under a subsection called "Fame," and in Mcrosoft's version of the Internet news site, there will be no more sports pages. Instead, the sports section is now simply called "Sweat."
The biggest advantage Microsoft has in its site is its ability to analyze searches on its increasingly popular Bing search engine. But - and this may be the late-thirties, crusty old journalist in me talking - Google news, even before the advent of G+, seems to do a much better job of presenting content that makes me want to read said content.
And do I really care what everyone is talking about on social networks? Or am I more likely to click on an article I noticed a friend reading in the Washington Post's social reader on Facebook?