Memo to Steve Ballmer

eWEEK's Steve Gillmor goes direct to the top man at Microsoft, as he asks Steve Ballmer to subscribe to RSS.

Dear Steve,

I know this comes at a busy time, with you most likely distracted by the European situation. But I know that youre always open to feedback from the community and most of the press, and your popular Longhorn evangelist Robert Scoble has assured us that Microsoft execs are listening. So here goes.

Steve, you need to support RSS. Where do I want to go today? To my RSS reader. Why? Because Im spending more and more of my screen time in the RSS space. Its far more time-efficient than browsing the Web. Together with instant messaging, its become an effective and reliable workaround for e-mail outages.

When Dave Winer developed SOAP with Don Box and Microsoft engineers, you and Bill signed on and jumpstarted the Web services revolution. In fact, I first met Dave when you invited him to the Forum 2000 .Net rollout in recognition of his pioneering efforts. Now both Dave and his counterparts in the Atom community have agreed to seek a unification of the syndication standards via an IETF working group.

Certainly RSS has been popularized as an efficient way to aggregate blog postings. But RSS adoption in the media and e-commerce spaces is accelerating even faster. Server-based aggregation sites such as Bloglines and MyYahoo are evangelizing the technology. Newsletters and direct marketing campaigns are shifting out of e-mail to take advantage of RSS efficiencies and positive word-of-mouth characteristics.

And then theres the intersection of peer-to-peer and RSS enclosures, where companies such as Disney are taking advantage of TiVo-like time shifting of rich media payloads. Groove 3.0s new Windows file sharing technology and the BitTorrent distribution specification are just two of the powerful tools now capable of enhancing the scalability and economic viability of RSS feeds.

But lack of Microsoft support at the highest levels is retarding the RSS momentum. Neither you nor Bill has mentioned the technology in any public setting. Yet your engineers and developers continue to produce a raft of RSS aggregators, servers and Outlook add-ins in their spare time. A product manager even demoed a phone-based photo-blog application during Bills keynote at VSLive this week.

Next page: Why Microsoft Needs RSS