What Microsoft Longhorn RSS means to me: sane, peaceful mornings
By Charlene Li
Microsoft announced that it would be doing the following:
1) Build auto-discovery into Internet Explorer 7;
2) Provide support for RSS within Longhorn so that developers don’t have to worry about technical details like data stores or synchronization;
3) Provide a list of RSS extensions that would be available under Creative Commons.
The first announcement is pretty straight forward – the new IE7 beta is due out this summer will have all sorts of nice features like tabbed browsing (already available for IE6 via MSN Toolbar) as well as auto discovery.
I’ve been asked this several times in the past few days – what happens to all of the small aggregator players now that Microsoft/Longhorn is in the market? Well, it wasn’t as if they weren’t expecting it! Nick Bradbury, the creator of FeedDemon, said in an interview with eWeek that he thought the Microsoft announcement was a blessing – and he echoes exactly what Dean Hachamovitch, GM of Microsoft's Internet Explorer team, said to me last week. This is because the second announcement – that Longhorn will support RSS – will make the mechanics of working with feeds much easier. As Dean said to me, “This takes the complexity away and allows the developer to think instead about the experience.
That’s where the third announcement comes in – the extensions allow RSS to become a basic transport layer for information, extending far beyond the content that’s currently available from news sites and blogs. You’ve already seen it in some of the examples that were submitted in response to my post – some of my favorites are RSS Calendar and appcasting FlickrExport. This means that rather than wait for some sort of miracle product that can tie together my work Outlook calendar, my family calendar on Yahoo!, and the school calendar of events, I can simply subscribe to their structured feeds and port them into the calendaring app of my choice.
So taken in whole, the Microsoft announcement is fairly sweeping – it will do the basic block and tackle work of working with feeds, allowing developers to build neat little applications, that in turn users will find with their long-awaited new IE browsers.
What’s not to like? Well, the usual suspects in the RSS format wars have claimed that Microsoft is creating yet another fork -- and those of us who still can’t for the life of us figure out the differences between RSS 2.0 and Atom don’t give a hoot. From my point of view, I’m much more interested in seeing what content publishers – which will hopefully include some of my favorite merchants like Talbot’s – will do with the new extensions so that developers will be able to write applications on top of those structured feeds.