RSS: The Big Tussle over a Tiny Orange Box

Microsoft's proposal for a redesign of the RSS icon is creating more controversy than the company's strategy for adding RSS support to its IE and Windows Vista products. (Microsoft Watch)

Microsoft Corp. set off a storm of comments and feedback—both glowing and damning—this weekend when officials requested feedback on a proposed RSS icon redesign for the Internet Explorer 7.0 tool bar.

Details about the planned RSS icon redesign emerged on the Microsoft RSS Teams Weblog on Saturday.

"The choice of what icon to use is challenging because it should be universally symbolic, but today there is no single icon that represents feed," according to a posting on the RSS Team blog site.

"Instead theres a variety of mostly orange rectangles with the words XML, RSS, ATOM, FEED, or Subscribe. … Our goal is to make sure that the icon is something that is understandable by all of our users: novice, advanced, developer, business, international, etc."

The team said it set out to create an icon which encompassed three principles.

They wanted to represent the key aspects of RSS feeds (newness, activity, subscription and continual information); build on the most consistent and identifiable element, namely, the orange rectangle; and avoid the use of text in order to work well with a global audience.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about RSS in Windows Vista.

The Microsoft RSS team suggested five possible new buttons, sparking a debate across the Internet.

All five options featured white non-text images on an orange rectangular background.

While most were lambasted for aesthetical reasons, Web commentors seemed to key in on the fifth, which debuted as part of IE7s Beta 1 release this summer.

Some commentors complimented the fifth design suggestion for its close resemblance to the Firefox RSS icon, a commonality which could encourage standardization.

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