The old Microsoft News app for Windows wasn’t great. It had barely changed since its initial launch alongside the ill-fated Windows 8; people were starting to question whether Microsoft was committed to the software.
However, in mid-2018, Microsoft finally released a redesign. It ushered in a more modern interface and new features. Does the new Microsoft News app deserve another chance? We think so! Here’s why.
Note: You can download the Microsoft News app from the Microsoft Store for free.
1. Customizable Interests
When you launch the new app for the first time, it will prompt you to select topics that interest you. You can choose from the pre-defined options, but you can also enter your own topics using the search bar at the top of the window. Self-entered topics will pull their news from Bing.
You can edit your interest topics at any time by going selecting the Today tab in the left-hand panel then clicking on the pencil icon.
If you want to adjust the order of your interests, just drag-and-drop them into the correct position.
2. Dark Theme
Dark themes in apps are becoming increasingly popular as users search for ways to protect their eyes from excessive strain.
Microsoft News now has a dark theme option. To switch between the two themes, click on the Sun/Moon icon in the top right-hand corner of the app window.
3. Streamlined Sources
Lots of news aggregators provide a way to select your preferred sources manually. Unfortunately, they are often clunky and tough to manage.
Microsoft News presents its list of sources in a clear and digestible way. Choose your topic in the left-hand menu, then mark the sources in the main window. There are more than 3,000 to choose from.
You can also search for your own sources using the text field at the top of the window.
4. Integrated Breaking News Notifications
Who has the time to constantly check news sites during the day? It’s lost productivity. But at the same time, you don’t want to miss any massive breaking news stories.
The solution is to use the app’s breaking news notifications. They are integrated with the Windows Notification Center and appear as easy-to-ignore popups.
You can enable breaking news notifications by going to Settings > General > Notifications and sliding the toggle into the On position.
5. Multiple Services, Same Experience
Microsoft is trying to make its News app into one of the primary ways people access the daily headlines.
To that end, the same backend also powers news content on other Microsoft apps and services like Microsoft Edge, Skype, Xbox, and Outlook.
By customizing your news interests and sources on the Windows 10 app, you will be able to access the same new experience regardless of which platform or device you’re viewing the news from.
There’s also an Android and iOS app. Both sync with the Microsoft Store version.
6. Consistent Editions
I live in Mexico. As such, being able to access news from the U.K., U.S., and Latin America is important to me.
Unlike other news aggregators, which often wipe your preferences if you change editions, Microsoft News will remember your settings. It means I can create customized lists of sources and topics for each edition and seamlessly hop between them.
If you spend a lot of time in more than one country or you’re living as an expat away from your country of birth, I’m sure you’ll find this feature as useful as I do.
7. Nearby News
Instead of using your IP address to determine which local news you see, the Microsoft News app lets you specify your exact location.
This solves the problem of inaccurate IP address locations meaning you see the news that you have no interest in, but also means you can keep track on your home city if you’re going to be out of town for a while.
You can set your location by click on the Location tab in the left-hand panel then selecting the pin icon at the top of the window.
8. Dedicated Video Section
The addition of a dedicated video section is an important step. It’s well known that video’s march as the preferred way of consuming content on the web unrelenting, and Microsoft’s decision to offer video news keeps it in front of the wave.
However, it’s also an excellent way for cord cutters to get their daily fix of video news. Although there are some ways for cords cutters to watch live news, it’s always been a notoriously tricky part of the cable TV experience to replicate effectively.
The video section will only show you videos from sections that you’ve previously expressed an interest in. For example, you’re not going to see TMZ’s analysis of the latest Justin Bieber scandal if your interests revolve around business and the markets.
9. Redesigned Android and iOS Apps
We touched on the existence of Android and iOS apps earlier in the article. But it’s worth noting that both apps received a redesign at the same time as the main Microsoft Store app.
Like the desktop version, both apps now allow you to customize your interests, manage sources, and receive breaking news alerts. There’s also a dark theme and widget support.
Uniquely among mainstream news apps, there’s also never-ending scroll. Your stories effortlessly flow into each other, and you’ll spend less time searching for the next headline you want to read.
10. Windows Integrated Sharing
The nature of news means you often want to share it with family, friends, and colleagues, not to mention your various social media accounts.
Because the new Microsoft News app is more tightly integrated with the Windows operating system, it’s Share menu includes any other supported Microsoft Store apps that you have installed. They include Facebook and Outlook, as well as services like OneNote, Skype, and Cortana.
The Best News Aggregator Available Today?
Ever since The Times put most of its content behind a paywall almost a decade ago, I’ve been an ardent Google News user. And, to be fair, it’s served me well. I’ve tried publisher-specific apps like BBC and CNN, but always preferred the multi-source nature of aggregators.
However, after Google News’ major overhaul in the spring, I found it to have lots of little problems. Most notably, it refused to remember my interest preferences between sessions. Those issues still haven’t been fixed both for me and many other users.
So, when I heard about the revamped Microsoft News, I decided to give it a shot. And honestly, I’ve been nothing but impressed. If you’re on the lookout for a new way to consume your news, I strongly encourage you to give it a second chance.