Longhorn embraces (and destroys?) RSS

IE team recently announced Longhorn's deep support for RSS. Although RSS is already getting rather common – and will be even more so by the time Longhorn hits the markets – Microsoft's move will energize the technology further. I think most of us ("us" meaning the loosely defined group of advanced Internet technology evangelists) agree it's a good move.
The point where the opinions split are Microsoft's additions to the spec, i.e. Simple List Extensions. Willie Wilson's comment on IEBlog about sums it up: "I'm really saddened that Microsoft has decided to defy standards yet again and alter RSS feeds so that they won't work in other news readers. You've done ruined Javascript; why must you go in and infect other products as well? It's like you guys are poison, destroying the veins of the Internet. Your IE-only hacks are getting old."
A more balanced view is provided by Tristan Louis. I believe the big picture is well described there: It may be questionable whether or not Microsoft's desires could've been better achieved by, for example, using Atom instead of RSS. However, so far I've seen no technically competent person blame Microsoft for the extension: it's made rather nicely in the spirit of RSS and XML namespaces. Any software development group could've done the same – now people fear market power, not the technology themselves.
Time will tell whether the SLE additions to RSS will prove useful. At the very least, comparisons to Microsoft's HTML and Javascript extensions should be avoided until we've seen some of the technology in practice. Unlike the web stuff in 90s, this one is a truly modular addition leveraging the best parts of XML technology.
What's more, Microsoft has provided a rather surprising licensing model: The Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. Read Lawrence Lessig's blog entry on this one. The commentary is particularly delightful. Paranoia rules the day?

June 25, 2005 В· Jouni Heikniemi В· 2 Comments
Posted in: Web

2 Responses

  1. Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho - June 30, 2005

    There are already so many incompatible (specified!) variants of RSS, some of which have the same name, that one more variant won't be noticed much, at least not negatively. If a big player like Microsoft supports only one variant, that might even help by consolidating the RSS field, bringing down the number of versions.

  2. Jouni - June 30, 2005

    But this is not a variant, it's an extension. There's a considerable difference even though the line may be blurred at times.