Microsoft on Wednesday posted the first installment of a blog to advise developers on creating Web pages and RSS feeds that work correctly with IE 7 and Windows Vista.
Microsoft plans to provide a common feed list of subscriptions and a common feed store of data in Vista, the Windows client release formerly known as Longhorn. The capabilities will be available to applications through Windows APIs.
The company also plans to let users automatically discover and subscribe to feeds in Internet Explorer 7. That feature is already available in competing browsers, including Mozilla Firefox and Apple Computer Inc.s Safari.
RSS will be available in both IE 7 for Windows XP Service Pack 2 and for Windows upcoming Longhorn server, which as yet hasnt received its final name. Microsoft released a beta of IE 7 last week. The beta for the Longhorn server is due later this summer. Microsoft plans to release the Longhorn RSS APIs during the Professional Developers Conference in September.
The advisory page, available here, is a work in progress that will be updated as Microsoft nears completion of Vista. Microsoft released a beta of Vista last week, and the final product is expected late next year.
When Microsoft gets closer to the final release of the Vista client, the content of the blog will likely move to a permanent, mirrored position on MSDN.
According to the blogs first entry, posted by Microsofts Team RSS, there will be “few surprises” posted in the space. Rather, Microsoft is seeking input on development of the new Windows capability. “Hopefully, this particular topic wont be controversial,” it reads.
But Microsoft wouldnt be Microsoft without controversy. At the recent Lockergnome.coms Gnomedex 5.0 conference in Seattle, some criticized the Redmond, Wash., software giant for focusing on a single format—RSS 2.0—and for not bringing the extension before an open standards body, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force. A competing standard, Atom, is now going through the IETFs standards process.
Still, many view Microsofts embrace of RSS as being the boost that RSS needs to get into the hands of the masses. “One of the challenges with RSS, its a fairly easy-to-use tool [for the more technology-literate], but for the vast masses, most people dont really get what it is or what you can do with it,” said Marc Strohlein, vice president and lead analyst for the research and advisory firm Outsell.
“One of the big things theyre doing in the IE 7 release is it will be RSS-aware,” he said. “The other thing, youll see people starting to build applications that use RSS in ways not commonly used. One common misnomer is that RSS is attached to the blogging phenomena, but in reality its a broader [transportation] protocol.”
The important thing for the future of RSS, Strohlein said, is that it become transparent, “to the point that were using it and not talking about it,” he said. “Thats the ultimate thing that Microsoft will do for RSS.”
As far as standards go, Strohlein came away from Gnomedex with the impression that Microsoft is trying to stay on the straight and narrow, instead of turning RSS into something proprietary. “If they tried, theyd fail,” he said. “RSS has too much momentum.”