Microsoft msnNOW's view of news for under-30s: supermodels, Hollywood, and little else

By Preston Gralla

If you're under 30, Microsoft believes it knows the news you're most interested in: supermodels, Hollywood, and little else. That's what you'll find on msnNOW, the site Microsoft launched today designed for people under 30.

When I headed over to msnNOW, I found a photo-rich page filled with news about supermodels including Cyndy Crawford, Gisele Bundchen, and Kate Upton. There was also an article about actor Billy Bob Thornton's "stupid little beard." And it's clearly the place to go if you want to keep up with the latest doings of Johnny Depp. (The "news" on the site changes frequently, so you may see different items when you go, but it's always this sort of thing.)

If you're interested in technology, real news, politics, the economy, or similar matters, this isn't the place you want to be. On my visit it did mention President Obama once -- but only to hype an article about a comedian you probably never heard of claiming that he snorted cocaine during the 2009 White House Correspondents' Dinner, where Obama was a guest.

Microsoft's press release about the site makes it clear that msnNOW is designed for people under 30. The release says the site is designed to help people "keep up on breaking trends and the hottest buzz," and that it

"...cuts through the clutter of the Web, providing an up-to-the-minute view of breaking trends and the hottest social conversations, what people are saying about them, and why they matter."

The site and its editors analyzes the talk and news from Facebook, Twitter, Bing and BreakingNews.com, and the writers post exceedingly brief tidbits about them and sprinkles them with links. If you're under 30, Microsoft believes, reading doesn't seem to be high on your list of skills, because photos rather than words predominate.

Whenever Microsoft tries to be hip or "buzzworthy," it's always slightly embarassing, and this is one more example. Will the site succeed? My guess is that it won't. Just because someone is under 30 doesn't mean they lack intelligence, and this site isn't designed for those who do much thinking.

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