Microsoft extends support to RSS | HT Tech

Microsoft extends support to RSS

Really Simple Syndication, RSS is a popular technology for reading news and information on the Web, writes Puneet Mehrotra.

| Updated on: Jun 28 2005, 15:20 IST

There is great news for web surfers. On Friday Microsoft announced it plans to add RSS, Really Simple Syndication, a popular technology for reading news and information on the Web, in its next version of Windows and Internet Explorer.


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Internet Explorer users will be able to use a future version of the programme to get direct feeds from other web sources. In effect, this would make it easier for people to keep automatically aware of website updates. Microsoft's new browser Internet Explorer version 7 will have an orange button on the toolbar, which will light up when it detects a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed on a site. Users can click on a 'plus' button to subscribe to the site's feed, as they would with a bookmark.

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So what exactly is RSS?


With so much happening on the web and technology, it's quite possible you don't know about RSS.   RSS is a lightweight XML format designed for sharing headlines and other Web content. Think of it as a distributable 'What's New' for your site. Originated by UserLand in 1997 and subsequently used by Netscape to fill channels for Netcenter, RSS has evolved into a popular means of sharing content between sites (including the BBC, CNET, CNN, Disney, Forbes, Motley Fool, Wired, Red Herring, Salon, Slashdot, ZDNet, and more). RSS solves myriad problems webmasters commonly face, such as increasing traffic, and gathering and distributing news. RSS can also be the basis for additional content distribution services.


Why is Microsoft extending support to RSS?


Microsoft, the world's biggest software giant, makes an impact with every move it makes, every association it forms and every word it utters. Behind any move by this giant it has a vision and a strategy so strong as to impact millions of Microsoft users throughout the world. So what exactly is the purpose of extending support to RSS?


The answer probably lies in the popularity of RSS. The Really Simple Syndication format has taken off in the past two years as a way of pushing data to people's desktops without them having to specifically request it. The technology has been particularly useful to news sites, such as this one, and by bloggers who use RSS as a way of informing visitors that a new post has been added.


RSS is based on XML.  Jean Paoli, one of the inventors of XML, already works in Redmond and Microsoft has said that XML will be the way it envisages data being moved around its various applications in the future. It is only one small step to embrace RSS as well.


RSS is already included in rival browsers. Microsoft probably wants to reach beyond the current limited audience of hard-core Internet users by making RSS convenient for mainstream computer users in its upcoming version of Windows, code-named Longhorn and IE7.


Microsoft has been for long trying to bridge the gap between the desktop and the web. With RSS it will become one of the first operating systems to do just that.


RSS has aided the proliferation of Web logs. Lets see what will Microsoft extending RSS support proliferate.


Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist at and edits you can email him on

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First Published Date: 20 Jun, 15:57 IST