Netvibes is among the most popular start page / personal portal thingies.
Around 2002, a friend and I were interested in the concept of Portals; we started researching the area quite heavily. MyYahoo was the big portal service on the Internet, and IBM was commercialising JetSpeed for corporations that wanted to use portals. The concept did not really take off though. Over the last year and a half, things have started to change and portals have started coming into usage. Except, the word ‘portal’ is not being used.
At my employer, we are looking at building ‘dashboards’ for the executives to see what is going on around the business. We are looking at Microsoft Sharepoint to do some of that. It has the concept of ‘web parts’ to build pages with.
Outside the corporation, services like iGoogle provide something similar. I use iGoogle to get a view of my GMail inbox, get a view on my Google Reader feeds on blogs and news sites I am interested. I also get a view on the price of stocks I am interested in, as well as my Calendar. Meanwhile, on Facebook and even the BBC.co.uk homepage, boxed widgets / applications are used to customise the page for a viewer.
The portal technology of old may not have progressed far, but the concept certainly has.