Yes, I'm a big fan of RSS feeds, not to say I'm a RSS feeds news junkie and today, The China Post Online revealed some more information about RSS support with Windows Longhorn, the next Desktop and Server OS from Microsoft. According to China Post Online, Microsoft said Friday that the next version of Windows will have built-in support for Internet data feeds. RSS, short for Really Simple Syndication, hasn't broken into widespread use yet (No? Are you sure?), but the world's largest software maker believes it will become a mainstay.
"We really believe that RSS is key to how people will be using the Internet in the future," said Megan Kidd, a Windows product manager.
In the delayed Windows upgrade, expected to be released late next year, an RSS icon will appear in the Internet Explorer Web browser to make it easy for people to find, much like Apple Computer Inc. has done with its Safari browser.
Longhorn will store all data downloaded to a computer via RSS in a single place. It will maintain a central list of all of a computer user's RSS subscriptions, from Web log entries to photos pulled from an online family picture gallery.
It will include a feature called simple list extensions that will let Web sites use RSS to publish lists of content that users can subscribe to, like a weekly run-down of chart-topping songs or an online gift registry.
Microsoft will make the list extensions technology available for free through a "creative commons" license, which lets the company retain some intellectual property rights while encouraging broader use of the technology.
Joe Wilcox, an analyst with Jupiter Research, said Microsoft's foray into RSS is reminiscent of its rush to capture its share of the burgeoning Web browser market in the mid 1990s.
"With the World Wide Web, we had this vast informational system that came along where Windows was not required," Wilcox said. "That posed a potentially serious threat to Microsoft's Windows franchise. They responded by making Internet Explorer part of the operating system."
Microsoft may argue that its RSS push is about improving technology for developers, content providers and consumers, Wilcox said, but "it's also, I believe, responding to a potential competitive threat."
Having RSS built into Longhorn could pose a serious threat to companies that sell RSS readers that siphon data from the Internet. But Kidd contends that Microsoft isn't out to put anyone out of business.
"This is not a replacement for readers by any means," she said. "What this does is enable more developers to create more readers."
Kidd said Microsoft has done a lot of the "heavy lifting" so software developers can focus on creating useful applications for RSS rather than the "baseline plumping" of the feeds themselves.
For example, Microsoft is hoping developers will come up with handy programs like ones that will send a user's favorite band's tour schedule straight into a desktop calendar, or let a user know when a favorite movie comes out on video.
Wilcox cited research that shows about 6 percent of consumers have an RSS reader on their computers, which makes him wonder if this move is going to be worth Microsoft's while.
"On the one hand, I can see some validity to what Microsoft is envisioning," he said. "On the other hand, I'm not sure I buy into the idea that RSS has to be a platform technology."
Making RSS support part of the OS is definitely good news since RSS is a smart and simple way to get news and information served but like the Usenet it's not that widely used today. However, I would like to see a better/deeper integration into Outlooks as Newsgator does but well, as Microsoft said - they will provide an interface for RSS developers which might makes Newsgator even better.
Oh yes, while we are talking about native RSS support for desktops - now I also have some hope that we will see the same native support for Windows Mobile devices including the option to ActiveSync both - the Desktop and the mobile. Only a dream? Well - we will see.
UPDATE: Microsoft's Channel 9 has a video available now, which shows the upcoming RSS integration into Longhorn and IE 7:
The Longhorn Browsing and RSS team (the one we interviewed here) is also announcing a new RSS extension, to be released into Creative Commons, that lets you do lists in subscriptions.
Check it out, first video demos of Longhorn and IE 7.
There are three demos:
- Demo One, at about 23:19. RSS in IE 7 and synchronization with other aggregators (like RSS Bandit)
- Demo Two, at about 34:00 - Enclosures, calendar integration
- Demo Three, at about 49:50 - Amazon integration
There isn't a download available for this stream yet which is around 00:58:40.
Cheers ~ Arne