Microsoft Corp.s MSN division has started an early test of a Web-based RSS (Really Simple Syndication) aggregator, while Yahoo Inc. has expanded into mobile access to the news feeds gathered on its My Yahoo personalized home page service.
Both moves signal a growing interest in the RSS news reader market that has largely been dominated by upstart companies providing both desktop aggregators and online services for reading news feeds. They also follow Ask Jeeves Inc.s purchase last month of Bloglines, one of the best known of the startup aggregation services.
By adding the ability to read news feeds, the major Internet services could help the syndication technology become more accessible to average users, many of whom who are unfamiliar with RSS and aggregators but already are using Yahoo and MSN, said Gary Stein, a senior analyst at Jupiter Research, a division of Jupitermedia Corp.
"There are some people who are actively going out and seeking RSS aggregators, but that market is limited," Stein said. "But if it comes to them as a tool theyre already using, then more people will be using RSS and reading RSS feeds and, to a point, not necessarily know theyre doing it."
RSS is a catchall term for a range of XML syndication formats used by bloggers and Web publishers to quickly share new content posted to their sites. There are multiple flavors of RSS as well as an alternative format called Atom.
MSN last week quietly began its experimental service for RSS aggregation through the Web. MSN earlier this year added RSS aggregation within its MyMSN personalized home page service, and it launched its Web search engine in February with the ability to turn a search query into RSS feeds.
The latest test lets users subscribe to feeds in both the RSS and Atom formats, suggests popular feeds, and organizes them in a series of categories such as business, health, and science and technology.
The aggregator also connects into MSN Search and saves a users search history.
The service is one of two projects available through start.com. The other service lets users store bookmarks.