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Latest Microsoft Launcher beta update on Android removes built-in News feed

Microsoft Launcher
Microsoft Launcher (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Latest Microsoft Launcher Beta build has removed the News feed.
  • It appears Microsoft is prioritizing the Start app's News widget instead.

A new build of Microsoft Launcher has begun rolling out on Android, and it features the removal of a feature that's been part of the launcher since the very beginning. Starting with this build (6.211203.0.1025721,) it appears the built-in Microsoft News feed has been taken out, likely because Microsoft wants to prioritize the Microsoft Start widget instead.

Microsoft Start has offered its own News and Weather widgets since the app first launched, which has made the News feed built into the Microsoft Launcher somewhat redundant. It was located in a separate tab, whereas the new News widget from Start is available front and center in the Launcher's activity feed. Unfortunately, the widget only shows headlines, and tapping on a story opens the dedicated Start app.

Either way, the built-in Microsoft News feed appears to be going away. It's been quite a long time since Microsoft Launcher got any new features, so it's a little disheartening to see features being removed. Hopefully 2022 will see new life blown into the Launcher, especially on Microsoft's own Surface Duo and Surface Duo 2, which has even less features than the normal Microsoft Launcher experience on other Android phones.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • Lol oh Microsoft
  • Yep. Used to be two steps forward one back. Or even two or three back. Now its one step forward, then cut off feet.
  • Chop em off at the knees!! lol. Yeah, it's pretty embarrassing.
  • I was hoping Panos would be the one who could see the "duh" stuff that the rest of the device and services parts of the company couldn't but I guess not (I know this is a different team and all but... Whatever)
  • This isn't necessarily a step backwards. Adding the Weather and Headline widgets work just fine in the news feed. It makes sense to remove the built in news, if you can simply pin Microsoft's news app widget for weather and headlines to the news feed and get the very same info, if you choose to use their news app.
  • True. However, if someone doesn't want another app to install having what's built in and simply choose to turn the news off in the launcher when installing Microsoft Start would be a better option.
  • Agreed. I've personally used the built in version for a while and like it better than the app. I'll adapt to this change, but that doesn't mean I have to be excited about it.
  • If you think this is simpler usability than you get the same response... "lol oh Vincent" Dl launcher, sign in, download app, sign in, find widget, place widget, sign in, find another widget, place widget, sign in. Its not about "this still works bc you can do it this way " and THAT'S what Microsoft has ALWAYS failed to understand in the mobile space.
  • I didn't have to sign in multiple times and the App was already pre-installed on my Duo 2. It did feel redundant to have the Microsoft's news app and the news feed, which showed the exact same info. So, my perspective is different and experience has been different.
  • Yes you did. You just don't recall ... or you're purposely lying.
    And yes I own a duo too
  • Maybe, twice, if you want to count logging in when I first set it up the device. Even then, after the initial set up, the device had my info. I didn't need to physically reenter my login info to access the app. It certainly wasn't more than that.
  • I stand corrected. I never signed into the app. Just realized it, while reading an article. However, this does validate my experience and perspective for me. I just don't see the removal of the news feed as a huge issue, since the Start app provides the same info, IMO. As with many things, it's a matter of perspective and I'm certainly not trying to negate other's experiences.
  • Lately, a lot of Microsoft's "upgrades" have meant the loss of features.
  • I'll have to see what it's like before I judge but yeah this feels like a step backwards. "If it ain't broke, break it!"
  • If you see a large crack before it sets sail, you don't need to be on the boat to judge its sinking.
  • Oh yes... Only just noticed that, thanks... I actually like the update with the news and weather widgets on my Duo.
  • I use the weather widget but I honestly never cared about the news one nor the news feed. In fact, turning off their news feed is usually one of the first thing I do on pretty much every device I get. I'd be curious if this one wasn't driven by analytics. It may just not be worth the development effort given the user base.
  • Maybe they're A/B testing. I have that version of Launcher, and when you swipe all the way over from the home screen I see Glance and News. When select New, they had simply replaced the original feed WITH the new Start. But it's still a news find as part of the Launcher.
  • I hope they have an update for the Duo that lets you disable the Your Feed. I have absolutely no use for it and it just gets in the way. I can't even bother to use the search bar, since the thing recenters itself (which puts the search bar above the display). It's useless, but unable to be turned off. I would rather have another section of widgets of my choice.
  • I'm on this version and I can still see the News feed?
  • Wish they hadn't sunset the Task View that synched with Timeline.
  • What is wrong with these guys in Redmond? 🤔