Howe was the happier of the two managers with taking a point from the clash at the San Siro as his team were mostly on the back foot against last season's losing semi-finalists.
Newcastle did little in their first fixture in Europe's top club competition since 2003, the Saudi Arabia-backed club barely creating a chance and lucky to escape with a draw on the balance of play.
Milan should have won after wasting a string of chances, particularly in the first half, and dominating the play on Sandro Tonali's (23) return to his old stomping ground after being sold to Newcastle in July.
"Definitely pride in result and the performance and the mentality shown," Howe told reporters.
"Within the squad the result wasn't underestimated. Also they are very honest players that acknowledge the fact that we can perform better.
"I think we'll get better and better as time goes on. Hopefully can grow into the tournament."
Milan's fans meanwhile, who watched their team thumped 5-1 by local rivals Inter Milan on Saturday, were left frustrated by their side's poor finishing and Newcastle's at times desperate defending which left the match goalless.
"You have to win when you play so much better than such a good team. Unfortunately we weren't able to capitalise on the situations we created," said Stefano Pioli (57).
"It's a shame that we didn't win the first match because it's going to be a difficult group. We're not happy with the result... We were lacking the most important quality of all."