Gates Paying Attention to RSS

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-05-25 Print this article Print

Bill Gates finally speaks the 'R' word as he highlights the increasingly strategic role of RSS in Microsoft's seamless computing direction, eWEEK's Steve Gillmor writes.

Bill Gates chose carefully his first public comments on RSS and the tectonic shift its rending across the technology landscape. The audience was not a roomful of geeks at VSLive, not a consumer-facing keynote crowd at CES, not even a developer conference like this weeks TechEd. Instead, it was bridge partner Warren Buffet and other captains of industry at Microsofts CEO Summit 2004. In seven succinct paragraphs, Gates laid out the roots of RSS—not in the business community, but in the "corporate or technical enthusiast space."
How blogging and RSS notification sits somewhere between e-mail and the Web while correcting the drawbacks of both: complex cc:ing of collaborative information and repeatedly polling of Web sites for new additions.
Bill has mentioned blogging in previous speeches and has increasingly focused on the intersection of blogging, RSS and Office in internal meetings. But in signaling his interest in the technology, as he previously did with mesh networking in off-the-record conversations and at last years Wall Street Journal conference (ironically made public by a blog post), Gates was talking as much to his product teams as to anybody. Much has been made of Microsofts rank-and-file support for blogging/RSS—some 700 sites at last count. But so far, theres no counterpart in Redmond to Tim Bray, whose Sun Microsystems job is strategically targeted on the space. Googles Gmail and Orkut projects may be converging via RSS, but no single brain (except perhaps Sergey Brins) is focused there yet. Click here to read an interview with Googles Brin on the future of Gmail. Much too much has also been made of Microsofts vulnerability to the RSS revolution. The rap: If too much micro-content flows outside the Windows (and Office) file formats and services, the fabled lock-in will be broken. Its what Ive called the Allchin Tax, where all innovation is measured by the degree to which it reduces switching costs from Windows. Next page: Take the Tablet, please.

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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