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Tom Conrad

I've moved my blog to http://tomconrad.net. Visit me there.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Microsoft and RSS

I'm sure that I'm the last gnomedex'r to post about the rss announcement that Microsoft made this morning here in Seattle. They've announced that Longhorn will have a set of system services for synchronizing RSS (and atom and rdf) content to your machine. This is a background service that pulls down the feeds when they're updated and tries to respect other processes that might require bandwidth at the same time. It will use the same background data transfer mechanism as Windows Update.

They've also updated IE (in the form of IE7 which was publicly demo'd for the first time today) to facilitate subscription. Apparently they've been paying attention to what Apple is doing with SafariRSS in Tiger because the UI is, quite literally, identical. In fact the whole UI for IE7 looks more like Safari than I'd have ever imagined. The version demo'd had a brushed metal skin, a very simple toolbar, a flexible search box to the right of the URL entry box. Very similar.

A good bit of time was devoted to the power of RSS with enclosers. They demo'd Outlook calendar population driven by RSS with iCalendar enclosures and a photo slide show powered by an RSS feed with jpg enclosures. So, pretty much it's the whole "embrace" thing... they were very clearly saying "we love RSS" and it will be everywhere in Longhorn.

Now... for the inevitable "extend" bit. They've also published today an extension to RSS 2.0 to make it capable of delivering ordered lists. This new tag makes it possible to use RSS to describe, well, lists. For example: Playlists, Events, Wish lists, To Do lists, Top 10 lists. Unlike publication feeds, lists need different semantics - in particular the ability to reorder or delete items. The tag makes that possible. They're also adding an extension for describing how item metadata (via namespace extension) should be interpreted in the context of a list. For example, which attributes should be used for filtering.? Which should be used for sorting? What is the datatype of each item? All of these extensions have been released under a Creative Commons license. It's not clear to me what exactly the value of that bit is, other than the PR benefit. (Tags: )

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