A colleague of mine (my significant other) at UBC noticed I was using goggle’s personalized homepage to manage my gmail and rss feeds and showed me another free service that provides the same function but with a lot more features from the grassroots Web 2.0 community. Netvibes.com is a custom made web 2.0 home page solution that allows you to create a personalized page and display data feeds and services. Some of the main differences between Google’s personalized homepage that I have found so far are: you have mutiple homepages with the use of tabs; support for Flickr feeds; support for podcasts; ability to download Yahoo! Mail and POP3 accounts email, and many other cool tools. Check it out and perhaps convert if you are an existing Google user. I might just keep both since Google will probably follow in Netvibe’s footsteps.
Update Spring, 2007: Google did.
Other notable home page services: I hear PageFlakes is good.
A good article to answer: What are personalized start pages?
Personalized Start Pages …(are) predominantly they’re homepages for Web information, gadgets and widgets. The difference from old-style web portals are: the user can personalize them much more (with RSS, inline email, etc), the content is more interactive and potentially much more useful (i.e. gadgets, widgets), they can be collaborative, and there is Ajax pixie dust to make it more of a desktop-like experience.
Source: Richard MacManus