June 23, 2005 10:20 AM PDT

Microsoft to bolster RSS support

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Microsoft plans to announce on Friday that it is expanding its support for the Web publishing standard Really Simple Syndication.

Most typically, RSS is used by news publishers and bloggers to notify subscribers when new information has been posted. It is also used by podcasters to alert listeners to new available audio.

Microsoft is proposing an extension to RSS that would allow it to better support ordered lists of information. Today, RSS feeds are sent and read merely as a stream of messages, with the order being determined according to the time the messages were sent. Microsoft is proposing a way to add ordering information so that an RSS feed could better handle things like an e-commerce site's list of best-selling items or calendar information ordered by the date of an event rather than when the appointment was created.

"Lists are all over the place, and people are starting to move them around via RSS, and they are not the usual kind of data that has been carried by RSS in the past, influential blogging pioneer Dave Winer said in a posting late Wednesday. "The people at Microsoft noticed something that I had seen, only peripherally--that there were applications of RSS that aren't about news. Like Audible's NY Times Best Seller list, or an iTunes music playlist, or lists of Sharepoint documents, or browser bookmarks."

A formal announcement of the effort is expected Friday at the Gnomedex conference in Seattle, Winer said.

Microsoft confirmed that it is backing an effort to add support for ordered lists but would not go into detail ahead of Friday's announcement.

Winer also hinted that RSS may be assuming a more central role at Microsoft, noting that there is a team devoted to the syndication standard.

"On Friday you'll see how deeply integrated RSS is in the architecture of the browser," Winer said in his blog posting. "But that's just the tip of what may turn out to be a very big iceberg."

6 comments

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Embrace & Extend - Here we go again
Sounds like the old days where MS inserts it's own "tweaks" into a standard and then it gets to the point where products that use the actual (untweaked) standard are shut out of the market.

I guess it worked for them an IE, they extended HTML and soon lots of web sites only rendered "properly" in IE (because they were written improperly).

Shall I assume the goal here is to lock out non-Microsoft RSS readers like Firefox & Thunderbird?

Sorry, experience has taught me cynicism.
Posted by raitchison (103 comments )
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cynicism not applicable
Cynicism is hardly applicable when Microsoft is the subject because most negative usually ARE true. Saying Microsft's intention is to extend and extinguish is more of a statment of fact as opposed to beinh a general negative comment. They have made it so.
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
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but RSS is extensible
But RSS is essentially XML which is designed to be extensible. As long as Microsoft adds a suitable namespace for their code, it should be okay. And if they don't, well the XML just won't validate.
Posted by nrlz (98 comments )
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