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Monday, June 27, 2005
Microsoft to Add Broad RSS Support to Longhorn


Microsoft plans to add broad support for the Web publishing standard RSS in the next version of Windows (Longhorn), the company is expected to announce Friday at the Gnomedex 5.0 conference in Seattle.

Longhorn is due for release in the second half of 2006.

RSS is primarily used by Web loggers and Web-based news publishers to keep subscribers informed when new Web log entries or news articles have been posted to Web sites.

As part of its RSS strategy, Microsoft also Friday will make available a set of XML (Extensible Markup Language) tags called Simple List Extensions that expands RSS to better support the publishing of ordered lists of information, Schare said.

Simple List Extensions will be freely available through a Creative Commons License, a licensing model created by digital rights lawyer and open-source advocate Lawrence Lessig. The license allows Microsoft to reserve some, but not all the rights to the technology, Schare said.

While RSS is a reliable standard for updating information in message form, it currently has no logical way to organize that information in a way that could help subscribers keep track of what is being fed to them, he said. "RSS is good for delivering what’s new, but not so good for things that are getting sorted or reordered," Schare said.

By leveraging Simple List Extensions, users and developers can filter, sort and pivot content lists of information, he said. Also, because Microsoft is including RSS APIs (application programming interfaces) within Longhorn, developers can use the code to integrate RSS-fed lists across other applications in the OS, linking updated information to a user's Outlook calendar to notify them of upcoming events, for example.

Information about Microsoft's expanded RSS support was first leaked in a Web log entry posted by software development guru Dave Winer, who had a sneak peak of the new extensions from Microsoft.

In a Web Log entry posted Wednesday, Winer also suggested that Microsoft may be interested in integrating RSS more tightly with its software, in particular within Internet Explorer. Longhorn will provide a common RSS feed list across all applications, common RSS data store for applications to access downloaded content, and an RSS platform sync engine. Subscribing to an RSS feed from within Internet Explorer 7.0 will be similar to adding a Web site to "Favorites." An icon placed in a toolbar will illuminate when feeds have been updated with new content.

Shots of Longhorn, IE7 and RSS in action, are available here.


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