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Microsoft to take RSS five steps backwards

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 8:09 AM

So today at Gnomedex Microsoft will be announcing extended support for RSS. Read that carefully, we're not talk about better support for RSS, we're talking about an extension to RSS. They want to be able to do e-commerce via RSS. Yes, you read that correctly. The last thing we need now is yet another fork in the RSS spec. It reminds me of the days where there was regular standards-compliant DOM and then there was Microsoft DOM. Is it the case that every time we take one little baby step forward (getting all browsers "somewhat" standard compliant) that we must take five leaps backwards (MS DOM, MS extentions to (x)HTML and CSS, and now extentions to RSS)? I feel another petition coming one. All hail Dave Winer, the guy who knows how to screw a good thing up. In your frantic race to extend RSS, let's not forget about Atom guys.



June 24, 2005 at 8:26 AM

Agreed. This could (will) suck out loud.

Matthew Oliphant

June 24, 2005 at 9:07 AM

My favourite corporate quote: "It's an industry standard that's been customized to meet our needs." Meaning, the org won't change to do what is proven to work for the industry, so X gets customized.


June 24, 2005 at 9:09 AM

Embrace and extend, but with smiling faces and handshakes from Winer and Scoble.

Ross Olson

June 24, 2005 at 9:13 AM

You've got valid concerns, but more likely this will end up like MS Office's "XML" documents that the last two shipping versions have supposedly used. It's a promise without carry thru, fulfilled by virtue of technicality, not by full adoption of the concept. IOW, MS will screw this up and no one will pay attention to it.


June 24, 2005 at 9:39 AM

"Yes, you read that correctly." except, you didn't! "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" does NOT mean they want to do ecom via RSS. The ordering information is talking about list ordering, not ordering a product. Nice Anti-MS spin.


June 24, 2005 at 9:49 AM

So why would extending RSS to natively support lists be a bad thing? Or is it only bad in your eyes because microsoft is proposing it? "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." - Dave Winer I spend a lot of time mapping services to UI rendering to RSS and support for lists in the RSS spec would be a huge step forward. And you might want to re-read the news article before your knee jerks again.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 9:49 AM

Kent: I am not saying they make the transaction right in the RSS.. I am saying that they are try to tie RSS in with e-commerce listings. Anyway, I think you are missing my point here. The point is that Atom is already speced to do it... why extend RSS? And why do I get the feeling that there will be a MS RSS... and is that really what we want to do?

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 9:51 AM

Kevin: It's not a bad thing, but when Atom already supports it, why mess with RSS? I think there is a need for the "idea" that is presented here, but it shouldn't happen with RSS, it should either be it's own push/pull spec or they should use Atom.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 9:54 AM

Some more on this can be found here: RSS in Internet Explorer


June 24, 2005 at 11:19 AM

Longhorn (heart) RSS

Jeremy Wright

June 24, 2005 at 11:56 AM

Nick, we need to talk. RSS was DESIGNED to be extended. The extensions are being released as CREATIVE COMMONS extensions. Nothing evil here. Move along.

Carlos Bernal

June 24, 2005 at 12:08 PM

Here we go again...knee-jerk-Microsoft-bashing. I believe good ideas will win and bad ones will eventually disapear. Even RSS and CSS wasn't born out of some grand utopian counsel think tank of the web sacred circle. If there is an MS RSS, so what let it be; if it stands it will be on it's own merit, if it fails well then you'll have another reason to rant!

Jeremy Wright

June 24, 2005 at 12:16 PM

It ISN'T an MS RSS. It's just an extension to RSS. An extra namespace. That's why the namespaces were created. Yahoo has MediaRSS. Google has an RSS extension as well. RSS is a delivery mechnanism that WORKS. Companies can either extend it or build something else. You choose which you'd really rather have.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 12:18 PM

I think we should just use Atom and move along as intended. I am curious as to what CC licence you'll be using for that too.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 12:20 PM

Carlos: I use both Windows and Mac equally. This isn't a holy war, this is about technology and what formats should be used for what. Atom has been around a long time, I think everyone should read up on it before posting.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 12:25 PM

Update: Looks like they will be using the by-sa Creative Commons license.


June 24, 2005 at 12:27 PM

I notice Digital Web only offers RSS. ;-)

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 12:35 PM

Good point Kevin. If we had video or audio or other kinds of information we were publishing here besides just text I am sure we would have gone with Atom, but we weren't. Kind of the point here, isn't it?


June 24, 2005 at 12:36 PM

This is not why we use RSS! RSS was created to serve a purpose, updates via time. RSS should not do what people are hacking it to do. Granted a hack is a great way to show the promise of a new idea. But go off and make it your own, make it an RSS sibling. I've seen this also, that RSS is taking over the space once reserved for "Web Services" WS-* techs. Why? Because RSS has enough tech-market-share and is simple, and sloppy (ref: Best of Software essays). Initially HTML provided no elements of style (Hello, scientists created it, not artists). It was simple and sloppy, so people turned it into something it wasn't meant to be in the first place (not passing judgement). The web as we knew it in 1993/94 was a hack: tables, meant for spreadsheets, containing graphics, that weren't even included at first, and only later as useful for graphs. RSS is a simple WS-* tech, and is sloppy. Sloppy is good because you can do a lot with it. It is one thing to use something in an un-intended way. It is another to defy the core operating principle (time) of the tech. MS is doing that here. That is why I am against this. I hope RSS doesn't move towards the WS-* problems, and I hope the splintering stops.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 12:57 PM

Robert has a blog post about this topic if you want to follow those comments there as well. I am currently watching the video.. but it really needs to be edited down to a reasonable size... I don't have all day to be watching a demo.


June 24, 2005 at 1:02 PM

I think that the issue here has less to do with RSS vs. Atom and more to do with the fact that the core function of RSS is about to become more fuzzy. XML already faces this issue, and XML-based formats need identity and clarity of function. If an XML list format is needed for interoperability, why not use OPML? Much of what MS presented today was just support for basic features of RSS/Atom. For that, bravo. Now go support CSS fully, too. MS is not facing backlash because of fear of new RSS/Atom applications, but because they show up late to the party, bring cake and call it pie, and expect everything to be ok just because it is "free." Try being involved on a day-to-day basis with the community and fully supporting existing standards before you blow in and tell us how great RSS/CSS/XML could be.


June 24, 2005 at 1:16 PM

Nick, click the maximize button. You can skip through the video in WMP.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 1:52 PM

Colin: what about the first S in RSS? You know, "simple."

todd cochrane

June 24, 2005 at 1:54 PM

Think about the users, think about your moms, they are introducing two elements and the design implementation looks awesome. The community will keep them honest or we will go around.

Jeremy Wright

June 24, 2005 at 1:56 PM

Colin: They ARE involved day to day with the RSS community. I mean, c'mon, Dare Obsanjo anyone? And, Nick, are you REALLY advocating that Microsoft should have created another standard that doest the exact same thing RSS does, and only created it instead of extending on an existing open specification that works, everyone uses and everyone supports? Is that really, really, really what you're saying? Because that's what they ALWAYS get flack for. People always say "why not use the existing [x] that does this?". Now they are and they're being given flack for doing exactly what the spec was designed for: extendability.


June 24, 2005 at 2:00 PM

well said, Jeremy.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 2:08 PM

Ok, so the first 45 minutes of the video was all about IE getting up to speed with what is already being done in Firefox/Sunbird, or more importantly Safari/iCal. If I had to summarize what the last part of the video was all about, I would have to say it was about taking feeds and making them more like web pages. Sort functionality in the browser when viewing a feed page. And that's not soo bad. But what I don't get is the idea of "a feed for everything." Why? Why do I feel like we are taking the web and trying to put it into our OS and our software rather than our feed readers being a way to access informaiton on the web? Months from now will there be a guy who just publishes a feed and has no blog? And do we want to turn ourselves into an army of un-bolders. It's basically a problem of information overload... a feed for everything and the kitchen sink. Why? Is it really that important? I can monitor my Netflix and Flickr comments via a feed, but do I need it all over the place in my OS and software? Food for thought.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 2:14 PM

Jeremy Wright: Maybe you are misunderstanding my points here. I am saying use something that is designed for this exact kind of thing (Atom) rather than making an extension (MS extensions for RSS). I am not by any means saying that Microsoft should make, say, FeedML 1.0 or something that does the exact same thing as RSS. Overall this announcement is kind late to market, don't you think? There is already a platform and browser that does this stuff. There is already a format that allows for these things. It just feels like MS is trying to get a slice of an existing pie and act like there was never any pie there before and they invented the pie. Sound familiar? Don't get me wrong, I have used Windows since 1994 and I am not dogging the OS, I am dogging the methods for which MS takes something common place and makes it a PR stunt and re-brands it as their own new idea.

Tony Brice

June 24, 2005 at 2:18 PM

The eCommercialization of RSS (or whatever becomes of RSS) is inevitable -- it is simply too elegant a solution to not be added to the mix of ways in which products are announced, distributed, shopped, etc. The market, as is always the case, will determine the future of RSS, Atom, et al as it relates to eCommerce.


June 24, 2005 at 2:19 PM

I think we have to consider where RSS would be if every major company did what MS just did. Would it still fulfill on the ubiquity it now does? That is the measure! Nick: Not sure I get your point!? Simplicity comes from narrowing scope, not expanding it. But, how about the second S? Syndication...I tend to agreed with JohnO's point. Jeremy: Community is not just use. If they were involved in community, then today's announcement would not have been a surprise to anyone. It would have been the natural progression of an idea working itself out - perhaps differently than their current solution. Sorry, but Dave is not a community!

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 2:24 PM

Colin: no you got my point... hehe.. that's what I am saying... just like JohnO... I use RSS because it's simple.

Jeremy Wright

June 24, 2005 at 3:06 PM

Colin, they worked with Dave, Larry and Nick (Bradbury). They didn't work with the whole community, but does that really matter. Nick: If you don't get why they needed to extend RSS, I'm sure this won't make any difference. The Microsoft "RSS" platform isn't actually an RSS platform: it's a syndication platform. They support Atom. All the RSS specs and a handful of other specs that nobody really uses at all, but they included because syndication's so simple. In order to support RSS fully, they needed to extend it BECAUSE it doesn't do what Atom does. The confusion is Microsoft's fault for calling this "RSS", and for only mentioning their extension of RSS, but the realty is that they didn't need to do anything to Atom. In the future: use whatever you want for your content. If you don't use the extensions, all Windows apps will still use what you're saying, no problem at all. No lockin. No new standards. Nothing required. Nothing. I'm pretty sure that when you say things like "Ecommerce via RSS" you've misread things, so forgive me if you already know all of this. In order to support all platforms equally, sometimes you need to modify some platforms to work (or interpret them at consume-time, which is actually worse than simply having your own namespace).

Jeremy Wright

June 24, 2005 at 3:07 PM

Nick: What platform and browser provide a single feed subscription model for any other app living on the platform? Ya'lost me mate.


June 24, 2005 at 3:33 PM

Jeremy: Yes...yes it does matter.

michael arrington

June 24, 2005 at 3:38 PM

the announcement and discussion was contentious and interesting. We're at gnomedex and posted about it here

Jeremy Wright

June 24, 2005 at 3:46 PM

Colin: Why? MS isn't doing anything TO the community. The community has full opportunity for feedback now, and can ultimately choose to support this or not support it. This is a platform. If nobody EVER uses it, it'll die. Just like ActiveX. As bad as it was, if nobody had ever used it, it wouldn't still be around. The wiki's open for feedback. Dean said anyone can email him. The IE blog is open for feedback. Yes, it's all after the fact, and I can see how that would be frustrating. But it's not like MS has proposed a DIFFERENT spec (which I imagine would be infuriating). It's proposed a namespace extension to one which the syndication community is already behind AND it's provided a way to ease the implementation of feed reading, sync'ing, etc. Not bad for day 1. Not as good as it could have been, but not bad.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 3:48 PM

Jeremy: Hear me out here... why not just use Atom? It already does that. I also think Colin has a good point about community involvement. There's some discussion going on here at Lastly, check out Tristian Louis's comments on what they did right and wrong. He makes some good points, tho I dissagree in a few of his items he marks Microsoft getting an A for. I bet you can guess which one. :) Michael: I have to dissagree with you as well. It's not a step forward for RSS, it's a step towards RSS for Windows. It's a way to leverage the draw of RSS to bring people back to the platform. I can't say I blame MS for doing this.. but I guess I just find it annoying. I prefer the Steve Jobs approch of moving away from the platform... but that may be a bit to old skool for anyone to remember what he was talking about back then.

Jeremy Wright

June 24, 2005 at 3:58 PM

Nick: They are using Atom. I thought that was clear from both the video and from the Gnomedex presentation. They really announced 3 things today: 1. The syndication platform, tied into Windows, that all Windows apps can tap into (which is great) 2. New RSS extension to allow it to tap into this platform completely 3. IE's integration into this platform So, everything the platform does, IE can do. And the platform works completely with Atom. So, #1 and #3 are as much about Atom as RSS. You and I both know that the things they want RSS to do, it can't do. So, they had 3 choices: break the RSS spec to make it do what they wanted, not use RSS, or extend the spec (as it's designed to do). Of those choices, I think they made the right one. Also, I don't read this RSS change as having ANYTHING to do with Windows overall. Any other platform could design a similar #1, and the change to RSS in #2 would work on that platform as well. I'd really rather we were sitting down with a pint. My strong words wouldn't come across so strong (sorry that they do), and I'm sure we'd come to a mutual disagreement on this ;-) And, I agree that greater community participation would have been great. I'm not sure it would have added any real value to this change, but it would have been great (ie: for it to add value, something has to have been done WRONG, and I haven't yet had anyone convince me that any part of this move was wrong).

Scott Trotter

June 24, 2005 at 4:04 PM

I'm at Gnomedex right now. Phil Torrone is demoing Linux on an iPod. I think that the most important aspect of the Microsoft announcement is that they are NOT going off on their own and re-inventing a the wheel. They're using RSS in IE7 in pretty much the same way as Firefox and Safari are using it. They're building RSS support into Longhorn so that it can be used in any Windows application. And they're extending RSS in the proscribed manner using a namespace to support lists, and publishing their spec under a CC license. The IE7 stuff isn't particularly exciting or groundbreaking, but at least the functionality will be getting into the dominant browser where your parents will be able to use it. And by the time the Longhorn stuff gets out into the hands of real users, I'm not sure that it will have the same impact as it might seem it will have today. But again, the main thing is that Microsoft seems to be behaving in an "appropriate" manner...which is a BIG change for them. --scott--

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 4:04 PM

let me re-word that: why not use Atom instead of the new RSS extension? Atom already does that.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 4:08 PM

Scott: I agree with all of your points here.. though, I must point out that not everyone's parents use IE. They may use Firefox, Safari, Opera, or Netscape. hehe, in all seriousness, my beef isn't with what they are trying to catch up with, it's with what they are doing to RSS. again, forget changing RSS, leave it as is, if you want to integrate those other features in a syndicated format, use the one that already does that: Atom.

Jeremy Wright

June 24, 2005 at 4:31 PM

Nick: Because supporting only one of the syndication formats is silly. Also, did anyone who actually has a problem with this have a problem with the mozilla extensions to CSS? A standard which wasn't meant to be extended? Just curious, because this reminds me a lot of that situation: an extension which doesnt' break anything else, is using a namespace (if you can call "moz-" a namespace), and is only designed specifically for use with one platform, though the change could be ported to others... ... Have you actually ever thought that it would be good to have a feed reader which ONLY supports Atom? Of course not. It wouldn't work with loads of the sites out there and that'd be silly. It'd be even sillier to have that happen in Windows. Microsoft choosing only ONE syndication format would not only lock out millions of sites, it'd also kill every other format - which would probably piss a lot of RSS folk off. If, in order to support RSS, they had to extend RSS in the absolute right way, then so be it. They didn't break anything. They released it right. It's under the right license. It's free as in speech as well as in beer. What's the problem, really? Should they really have ONLY supported Atom in their syndication platform?

Scott Trotter

June 24, 2005 at 4:33 PM

Nick: Adding a namespace to RSS isn't "changing it." Rather, it's the approved method for adding new features. But, I suspect that I'm not going to persuade you ;-)

Jeremy Wright

June 24, 2005 at 4:39 PM

This isn't like the DOM example earlier. The DOM MS implemented was poorly implemented, not needed (it already did what they wanted) and implementing that DOM meant the other couldn't be used. This is the exact opposite of that in every way. It's not contradictory. It's an approved means of adding to a standard that, in order to do what they need it to, NEEDED added to. It's open. It's documented. It's under the same license as RSS 2.0. Anyways, I'm gonna step out of this. It's not a battle worth fighting. And I'm not even sure it's one worth having. Ultimately, feed developers, and blog developers, will choose.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 5:03 PM

Scott: I get that part. I guess I used a poor choice of words. I guess what I am asking is say you have X format and Y format. You want to do what Y format already does. So, then use Y format, but don't add an extension to X format just to make it work like Y format if you canjust use Y format to begin with. See my point?

Jeremy Wright

June 24, 2005 at 5:05 PM

Or you could extend X and use both. There's nothing wrong with that, is there?

Jeremy Wright

June 24, 2005 at 5:07 PM

(ie: why not allow users, developers and everyone to _choose_? What's wrong with that?)

Scott Trotter

June 24, 2005 at 5:24 PM

But isn't Atom just RSS for people who don't like Dave Winer? Seriously though, RSS 2.0 predates Atom so isn't RSS 2.0 format Y and Atom format X?


June 24, 2005 at 5:45 PM

Atom really isn't "RSS for people who don't like Dave Winer" and that's a paticularly stupid thing to say in the context of this conversation (e.g. as we discuss things Microsoft had to add to RSS to make it do what Atom already could) Honestly, I don't have any problem with what Microsoft is doing I simply wish they'd change the "RSS" icon that appears on the taskbar to "SYN" (for Syndicated). IE will be figuring out what format its in anyway so why not rebrand all syndication, let developers choose and stop the whole format war in its tracks

Jeremy Wright

June 24, 2005 at 5:56 PM

Tom: Personally I vote for "FEED" as the button. It's better for users, at least in my mind (though testing would bear that out).

steven streight aka vaspers the grate

June 24, 2005 at 6:04 PM

Chris at 49 Media tells me there already *are* blogs that are Feed Only, no blog site. I'll look up his reference to them in his email to me. I'm really negative about RSS, though I'm trying to understand and use it. With RSS spam, RSS email scrapings, RSS ad feeds, this trend to cramming everything into RSS feeds seems strange. There is a strong move to disable comments, especially in Japan. There is an arrogant "if you want to say something, start your own blog and post about me" attitude out there. And now it seems there is a push to push content at subscribers, ads and ecommerce offerings, and, though I'm no expert, this trend seems bad.

Nick Finck

June 24, 2005 at 6:08 PM

Jeremy, I see your point here. I guess I look at it like video production. If I want to take advantage of some of the features that are used in a specific format, like say, MOV, then I would just make the video in MOV, I wouldn't try to make an extention for AVI that makes have features like MOV. I donno.. I guess I am just not 100% convinced yet... but closer. Tom: not so fast there... Scott's partly correct here, a lot of people are either for Dave Winer or aginst him. Seriously. Anyway, your point about letting the developers choose is a good one. Scott: Good point, and to some people maybe that's what it's about. However, that;s not what it's about for me. I use RSS 2.0 here on Digital Web, because that was the right spec/format that supported just what I needed. I do think MS is in bed with Dave sometimes, and that's another story.


June 24, 2005 at 9:37 PM

I had a chuckle over this contribution from Tim Bray .... Ongoing


June 25, 2005 at 1:43 AM

Nick, I think you are missing the point to some extend. The whole Idea about RSS ist that in can easily be extended. The things MS adds are are one (or two) new namespaces. It is within the specs (standard) of RSS to extend it by adding namespaces. It will not break compatibility with RSS itself.

Michael McCarthy

June 25, 2005 at 5:23 AM

It's frightening... could be the same old thing, but I do agree, all these disparate things, atom, etc etc, drag down progress by overwealming people with simple features to chase down and implement. I don't think it's wrong to make ONE THING better, and putting it in Creative Commons is a good step, but will people reject it by default? MS isn't exactly a hearts and minds winner when it comes to standards, more or less they just roll over you with a tank.

Nick Finck

June 25, 2005 at 5:24 AM

Bonk: it's not the compatibility or the extension I am worried about. It's the direction it will take RSS. RSS wasn't ever suppose to go this direction and I feel most people who have subscribed to RSS feeds were doing it to "just get to the content". This is why I say they are taking steps backwards. Atom, on the other hand, was intended for these kinds of things and should be the format of choice for such endeavors.


June 25, 2005 at 5:27 AM

Nick - while I agree that Atom already has the capabilities that MS-RSS will do, I agree with Jeremy... where's the harm? Jeremy - "And, I agree that greater community participation would have been great. I'm not sure it would have added any real value to this change..." You REALLY said this? You really put "greater community participation" and "real value" in back-to-back sentences and can't see the connection? That - and that alone - is why MS is facing any backlash today. Okay, that and the fact this is entirely "RSPR"... Really Simple Public Relations... while this is great news for the Windows/MSIE users of late 2006, virtually everything "announced" yesterday is already there for the rest of the world.

Nick Finck

June 25, 2005 at 7:14 AM

Dave: I have, with a little insight from Jeremy, come to the conclusion that there is no argument left about the technology as far as support goes. With that said, there is the ethical issue we are facing here with the intended direction of this extended RSS. Let me show you an example to be clear: Take an office memo. It is a harmless piece of paper that is used to inform employees about company news and information. It is pure, maybe even virgin if you will. Now, imagine if it had images. Now, what about adding some advertisements about related resources, tools, products, and companies... pretty soon you have a newspaper. Microsoft is trying to take a format for information that is, for once, simple and pure ...and they are trying to extend it to include video, audio, graphics, navigational functionality, and more... pretty soon your RSS feeds will look less like pure information and more like web pages. We all know what advertising did to the Web. Is that what we want to happen with RSS? Truth be told, I am sure the techies and such won't have it.. but if it's view of the general public, well, they consume anything they see no matter how blanketed with ads it is... even if it's an advertorial... or at least, that is my fear. The facts: Microsoft sees actual on-site page viewing traffic dropping like a rock and RSS accesses going through the roof. They know the RSS space is pretty much where the Web (HTML) was when it started: stark, textual, information powered, and free of advertising in most cases. They are not idiots. Let's just hope the general public learns from it's mistakes and chooses not to subscribe to the extended RSS feeds... because I don't know about you, but I don't want ads in my email program, calendar application, address book, text editor, video player, audio player, let alone my feed reader.

Nick Finck

June 25, 2005 at 7:16 AM

On that note, yes, I realize this problem is far greater than Microsoft or RSS... but let's not make the problem any bigger than it already is.


June 25, 2005 at 9:49 AM

Nice grenade post. Mr. Fink has crafted over 1,700 words in this post thus far (his last article, over a year ago, was at 500 or so). Couldn't we channel this angst into a though-out article discussing the pros and cons vs. the cheap shot approach in a blog and then trying to convert (unsuccesfully) people one at a time? And if you don't have time to watch the whole video, yet make comment, then backtrack a little after watching it -- please update the tone of your your original post.

Nick Finck

June 25, 2005 at 11:38 AM

Eric: We don't change what has already been said. Sorry, it's not going to happen. We will probably post a follow-up blog entry, but nothing more. This issue isn't worthy of an full-blown article yet. We can only speculate based on what facts we know at this point. Once we can see actual tangible proof of the direction Microsoft is taking with RSS then we will craft an article... and it probably won't be by myself or any staff member, it will probably be by an industry expert acting on their own behalf and volunteering the article topic, focus, and content.

Nick Finck

June 25, 2005 at 12:05 PM

Go read up on Alan Herrell's post Microsoft and RSS. If you can get past the first few harsh paragraphs, his points all start to come together in the middle. It's pretty much a given that Microsoft is doing catch up to maintain market share. Anyone who disagrees with that should do more research. Now, we all can agree it's an extension that Microsoft is talking about, but we all know that an extension can become the de facto standard as well. Lets look beyond the "if we assume Microsoft behaves themselves here" and start seeing this for what it really is about: market share and leverage.

Scott Trotter

June 25, 2005 at 3:56 PM

Hi. Still at Gnomedex. Legal panel running right now. Boring. Nick, I think that you are combining two separate issues. Nothing that Microsoft is talking about with this announcement has anything to do with adding audio, video, images or whatever to an RSS feed. I actually think that their proposed list extensions are a really good idea. RSS is implicitly a time-ordered list of news items. The list extentions basically remove the time-orientation from the feed and enables other kinds of lists to be syndicated. In theory at least, I think that's a good thing. The other issue is that of adding other media types to the RSS "body." I haven't heard anything about that from Microsoft here at the conference, but I think that it's inevitable. I think that what's going to happen is that entire web pages--complete with text, graphics, flash, and advertising--are going to be delivered via RSS in addition to being posted on a site in the traditional manner. I think this is inevitable because content providers who rely on advertising to support their sites are going to insist on it. I don't like it, but I don't think there's any way to prevent it. IMHO.

Nick Finck

June 25, 2005 at 7:02 PM

Scott: good point there about lists... however, if you watch the demo on Channel 9 you'll see the intent to add video, audio, imagery, and more. I am pretty concerned about this for obvious reasons. But as you said, it may be inevitable... which is sad.

Scott Trotter

June 26, 2005 at 2:18 PM

Is the video of the Gnomedex announcement? Huh. Just goes to show the difference between being seeing something live and seeing it on video or reading about it in the media. One guy blogged that he thought the crowd was generally receptive to the Microsoft announcement. From where I was sitting, I thought the crowd was ready to lynch them :-).


June 27, 2005 at 10:58 AM

I want to know how Dave gets invited to Microsoft to find out about these things? Doesn't he hate private, closed-door meetings? Is anybody allowed to make an extension if they invite Dave, and why don't they have to invite the RSS advisory board?

Scott Trotter

June 27, 2005 at 1:18 PM

I've finally gotten a chance to view the Channel 9 video of Microsoft's RSS work, and it's NOT just the Gnomedex session as I assumed it was. The demos are basically the same, but the Channel 9 video has a LOT more context than we got at Gnomedex itself. The main point that the video clarified for me was the usage of media types which Nick alluded to in his comments above, and which I misunderstood initially. They really glossed over this in the presentation, but in the video, the Microsoft guys are talking about handling all of these various media file types as enclosures, analogous to the way that MP3 files are handled as podcasts now. So the Outlook demo is showing how an RSS feed item might contain iCal file enclosures which the feed reader (IE7 in this case) hands off to Outlook for processing. The funny thing is that this is yet another feature that is, uh, not exactly original. Here is a list of media types that FeedDemon, which is one of the apps that I use for RSS, recognizes as valid enclosure types: wma;wmv;avi;wav;mpeg;mp3;mp4;mov;aiff;au;torrent;gif;jpg;jpeg;png;zip; Files of these types are handed off to a companion program called FeedStation, which downloads the files to a user-specifed folder on a user-specified schedule. The audio file types are then assumed to be podcasts and are given additional post-processing. It's easy to imagine how this app could be extended to do anything that was in the Microsoft demo with regard to enclosures. I'm going to try and wrap up my thoughts about the Microsoft announcement, and a few other Gnomedex things, in an entry on my own blog a little later today. Come on over and check it out.

Scott Trotter

June 27, 2005 at 1:32 PM

James: Bringing Dave Winer in for an early preview was a very smart move on Microsoft's part. As you probably know, on anything RSS-related, Dave is going to have a pretty strong opinion one way or put it mildly :-). By bringing him in early, they get the chance to change anything that he might object to, and having Dave on their side will give them a lot of credibility within the RSS community. It would be interesting to know if there was anything that Dave DID object to in that meeting a few months ago, and what, if anything, they did to accommodate those objections.

Nick Finck

June 27, 2005 at 6:35 PM

Ok, here is my 2nd post on the topic: Microsoft, RSS, and Ethics. Enjoy.


June 28, 2005 at 11:33 PM


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