Microsoft to Deliver RSS Support to End Users and Developers in Windows “Longhorn”

SEATTLE— June 24, 2005 — Microsoft Corp. today announced support for RSS (Really Simple Syndication) in the next version of the Microsoft® Windows ®operating system, code-named “Longhorn.” The RSS functionality in “Longhorn” is being designed to make it simple for end users to discover, view and subscribe to RSS feeds, as well as make it easier for developers to incorporate the rich capabilities of RSS into their applications. In addition, Microsoft announced Simple List Extensions, a set of extensions to RSS that can be used to enable Web sites to publish lists such as of photo albums, music playlists and top 10 lists as RSS feeds. Microsoft is making the specification freely available via the Creative Commons license, the same license under which the RSS 2.0 specification was released. The announcement was made in Seattle during Gnomedex 5.0, an annual conference for technology enthusiasts and industry influentials that focuses on RSS, blogging, podcasting and other new media models.

“RSS is key to how people will use the Internet in the future by automatically delivering the information that is important to them,” said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager for “Longhorn” browsing and RSS at Microsoft. “We are investing heavily in RSS for Windows ‘Longhorn’ 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.”

RSS Is Easier for Users and Applications Developers

Microsoft is integrating RSS features throughout “Longhorn” to enable a broad group of users and developers to more easily take advantage of RSS. For instance, while browsing the Web, “Longhorn” users will be able to easily discover RSS feeds through an illuminated icon, as well as read the feed while still in the Web browser. In addition, users will be able to subscribe to an RSS feed as simply as adding a Web site to their “favorites.”

The RSS features in the Windows “Longhorn” platform also will enable application developers to easily harness the capabilities of RSS in their applications. For example, business users about to attend a conference could subscribe to the conference’s event calendar. They can then use a “Longhorn” RSS-enabled calendar application to view the events in the RSS feed from within their calendar application. Or business managers could subscribe to sales data that notifies them via a line-of-business application when new deals have been closed.

The RSS support in the “Longhorn” platform includes the following:

  • Common RSS Feed List.This core feature of Windows maintains a common list of the user’s subscriptions across all applications. This allows the user to subscribe to a feed once and have all RSS-enabled applications able to access the common list to view the subscriptions.

  • Common RSS Data Store.A common data store will provide a single location where applications can access content that has been downloaded to the PC via RSS, including text, pictures, audio, calendar events, documents and just about anything else. All applications will have access to this content for creating rich user experiences.

  • RSS Platform Sync Engine.The sync engine will automatically download data and enclosures for use by any application. The engine is designed for efficiency, using idle network bandwidth whenever possible to limit the effect on the user’s Internet experience. Developers can use the platform to get RSS data without having to manage details such as synchronization schedules or subscriptions.

Simple List Extensions Enable Content Publishers to Deliver New Experiences

Microsoft has developed the Simple List Extensions, a set of enhancements to RSS to help Web sites publish lists of content that users can subscribe to, such as top 10 songs from a music site, a wish list from an online retailer or a user’s ranking of favorite restaurants. The need for Simple List Extensions arises from the fact that RSS is tailored for subscribing to time-based feeds. The Simple List Extensions expands the scope of RSS in two significant ways:

  • It enhances RSS to capture information critical to representing lists such as ordering of items. By using these extensions, applications can become aware of changes in a list, such as when an item has changed position or has been removed from the list altogether.

  • It allows publishers to embed useful information about the list itself. For example, an online retailer can supply additional information about each item in a list such as price, sales rank, average customer rating and type of merchandise. The extensions enable richer flexibility and capability for sorting and ordering. This enables users to sort their friends’ wish lists by sales rank or popularity.

Web sites that create lists using the Simple List Extensions will benefit as well; for instance, a music site will be able to deliver a daily top-10 tracks list to help drive increased sales — something that is difficult to do today and requires significant work for both content providers and RSS solutions.

“We’re excited to see Microsoft making RSS an integral part of the ‘Longhorn’ 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 the ‘Longhorn’ RSS platform and the data and technology we make available through Amazon Web Services.”

Microsoft is making the Simple List Extensions freely available to the community under the Creative Commons share-alike attribution license, the same structure that was used for the RSS 2.0 specification.

“We salute Microsoft’s decision to license its Simple List Extensions via Creative Commons, which offers creators a way to both protect their work and to encourage broad uses of them,” said Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of Creative Commons. “Microsoft’s flexibility with its intellectual property will positively impact a wide range of content publishers and the RSS community as a whole.”

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