Posted by: kurtsh | August 31, 2005

NEWS: RSS Compels Features in Windows Vista

“It’s key to how people will use the Internet in the future by automatically delivering the information that is important to them.”  

Dean Hachamovitch, general manager for Windows Vista browsing, is talking about RSS (Really Simple Syndication), which Windows Vista will support. “We are investing heavily in RSS to make it easy for users to discover, read and subscribe to RSS feeds as well as enable developers to deliver powerful, smart applications that act on the information on behalf of the user.”

Until recently, RSS was a technology of early adopters. “RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web,” states “It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving summaries of the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. The number of sites offering RSS feeds is growing rapidly.”

Adopters typically use a third-party vendor’s “reader” software to monitor their RSS feeds. Integrating RSS features throughout Windows Vista will enable a broader group of users and developers to more easily take advantage of the application.

For instance, while browsing the Web, Internet Explorer users on Windows Vista will be able to easily discover RSS feeds through an illuminated icon, and to read the feed without leaving the Web browser. Users will be able to subscribe to RSS feeds as simply as adding a Web site to their “favorites.”

“RSS is just too good; it’s just too powerful. It’s got to be everywhere,” said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager for Windows Vista browsing.
The RSS features in the Windows Vista platform also will allow application developers to weave RSS capabilities into applications. For example, business users about to attend a conference could subscribe to the conference’s event calendar. They then could view the events in the RSS feed from within their own calendar application. Or business managers could subscribe to sales data that notifies them when new deals have been closed.

“RSS is just too good; it’s just too powerful. It’s got to be everywhere,” Hachamovitch said.

The decision to include RSS support in Windows Vista happened much like an avalanche, he said. It started with a small trigger – the team playing around with the idea to take RSS beyond the browser – which resulted in a flurry of activity.

“A light bulb went off, and then things started happening very rapidly,” he said. “We started talking about associating blogs with photos, and then said, ‘hey, why not calendaring?’ and we just kept going. We put together a demo one night, grabbed Joe Peterson out of a meeting the next day and showed it to him. He said Will Poole and Jim Allchin should see this, and they said, ‘Go, go, go – we’ve got to run with this.’”

Group program manager Amar Gandhi said the response, encouragement and work from employees across Microsoft was impressive, helping to ensure the announcement could be made at Gnomedex 5.0, an annual conference that focuses on RSS, blogging, podcasting and other new media models.

“Marketing, evangelism, legal, public relations and other groups immediately responded when they heard what we were doing,” Gandhi said. “It wasn’t a big company meeting to get this stuff going; it was an amazingly concerted and spontaneous effort between teams. People just literally showed up at our doors asking how they could help. There was no committee, no approval process, when it was the right thing to do, we just went and did it.”

Microsoft also announced Simple List Extensions, which enable Web sites to publish lists (i.e., photo albums, music tracks) as RSS feeds. The specification will be made available for free via the Creative Commons license, the same license under which the RSS 2.0 specification was released.

“Even our harshest critics don’t know what to say,” Hachamovitch said. “They’ve come and congratulated us and said we did exactly what they would have wanted us to do, and that they see this as a sign of good things to come from Microsoft.”

“We’re excited to see Microsoft making RSS an integral part of the [Windows Vista] platform,” said Jeff Barr, program manager for Amazon Web Services. “We look forward to seeing all the ways that developers surprise us with their innovations that combine [Microsoft’s] RSS platform and the data and technology we make available through Amazon Web Services.”

Windows Vista Beta 1 includes initial support for RSS in Internet Explorer. Support for developers to build RSS-enabled applications will be made available at the Professional Developer’s Conference in September.

[this is taken from our company newsletter, the "Micronews"]


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