He will lead a 50-strong editorial team and direct Microsoft’s strategy, partnerships and content on the MSN platform.
Clifton, who formerly served as editor-in-chief of BBC News online, will be based in Microsoft’s London office and will report directly to its consumer and online MD Ashley Highfield from 18 April.
Highfield says the appointment was made to bolster the editorial on MSN’s platformsm which reaches 24m unique users a month, according to ComScore data.
At the BBC, Clifton was most recently head of editorial development, multimedia journalism and was responsible for on-demand developments across news, sport and weather. Prior to this, he was head of BBC News Interactive, responsible for the broadcaster’s main news site plus its mobile, text-on-TV and interactive TV services.
The move comes on the back of rival content portal AOL confirming it will launch a UK version of The Huffington Post. AOL’s acquisition of the site for $315m last month also saw founder Arianna Huffington join the company as editor-in-chief and president of a new unit of AOL, Huffington Post Media Group.
AOL is also positioning itself as a key destination for women in a bid to capture a greater share of the online female audience.