Microsoft Bakes RSS into Longhorn

The feature will be integrated into the next version of Windows at the platform level; the company says it is "betting big on RSS."

Microsoft continues to reveal details about the core features it plans for its Longhorn operating system, the next version of Windows that is due in late 2006 on the client side and in 2007 on the server front.

The latest Longhorn core feature to be confirmed by Microsoft Corp. is RSS, which Microsoft will integrate directly into Longhorn at the platform level.

The Redmond, Wash., company believes that technology will be key to the way people use the Internet in the future and to getting the information delivered to them that is important.

"We are betting big on RSS and creating support for it throughout Longhorn. We believe that RSS is so powerful that it needs to be in places other than RSS readers and browsers," Gary Schare, director of Strategic Product Management in the Windows division, told eWEEK in an interview.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about Microsofts plans for the next generation of Windows Servers.

Microsoft will take the wraps off its updated strategy at the Gnomedex conference, which kicks off Friday in Seattle.

Microsoft was focusing on three things in Longhorn around RSS, Schare said.

First, making it easy for users to find, view and subscribe to RSS feeds; second, making it easy for developers to put RSS in their applications and enable new classes of RSS applications; and third, creating a set of extensions for RSS, known as the Simple List Extensions, that can be used to enable Web sites to publish feeds that represent ordered lists of items, such as a wish list or top 10 lists.

"Lists are very difficult to do with RSS today, as it is currently not really designed to handle that scenario. But, through these extensions, we are going to enable that to work really well, and we are also making these extensions freely available through a Creative Commons license," Schare said.

Because lists are powerful mechanisms that can be ordered, sorted and pivoted, a lot of content publishers are trying to use RSS to publish their lists.

But RSS is built on the notion of time-based delivery, and the delivery of text did not have the metadata to allow that kind of work.

These new extensions seek to enable those scenarios and "to let anyone do it," he said.

As such, Microsoft has realized that if it adds some new attributes to RSS, it will be able to handle lists really well.

That resulted in the creation of the Simple List Extensions that will be built into Longhorn and also made freely available through the Creative Commons license.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about how Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig started the Creative Commons.

"That will allow anyone to build them into any application on any device or operating system. This is the most high-profile project we are licensing via the Creative Commons, which allows people to make things freely available while retaining some rights," Schare said.

Microsoft was doing "share alike with attribution," where the specification was intended for like scenarios, could not be changed and required some level of attribution, he said.

Asked if this would preclude free and open-source projects licensed under the GNU GPL (General Public License) from using them, as is the case with the upcoming new Open Office XML Formats in Office 12, Schare said he did not believe that was the case here, because this is an open specification where tags are specified, but he acknowledged he was unsure.

Next Page: A major step on the client software side.