MSN Launches Newsbot in U.S.

Microsoft is expected to take the wraps off the U.S. version of its MSN Newsbot today, marking the first time the company has used its own technology for a search site in its home country. The personalized news search, which launches as a beta test, will carry the MSNBC co-brand.

The company has long tested the Newsbot concept — the company’s answer to Google News or Yahoo News — on MSN sites abroad. Last week, the company added Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland (French), the U.S. (Spanish), Indonesia, and the Philippines to its list of beta Newsbot sites. Previously, it was available only in MSN UK, France, Spain and Italy. The U.S. test will reside at

“We’ve put the strongest assets of MSN and NBC News to work for consumers with Newsbot, the only automatically personalized news search service on the Web,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of MSN Information Services and Merchant Platform. “By providing a variety of ways to personalize the service, people have more control over how and where they get their news — control they can’t get anywhere else on the Web.”

Newsbot starts with Moreover Technologies’ scans of over 4,800 news sources, then organizes them into seven different categories: U.S. and world news; sports; entertainment; business; science and health; and technology. Different publications’ coverage of the same stories are clustered.

When readers click on links to read stories on publishers’ sites, the Newsbot registers those interests and begins to tailor the presentation of content to those preferences. Users can also search by keyword to find stories in which they’re interested.

The launch of the Newsbot is the latest of Microsoft’s efforts to muscle into the lucrative search market. The company has said it plans to launch its own algorithmic search engine, along with a blog search engine, by the end of the year. Earlier this month, it unveiled a test version of that Web search technology along with a new look for its search site. Currently, the main MSN search interface is powered by Yahoo Search Technology, though Microsoft no longer carries listings from its rival’s paid inclusion program. Yahoo’s Overture continues to provide paid placement listings to MSN, however.

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