SAN FRANCISCO -- Whether the content streams are eventually called RSS, Web feeds, or some other name, a key design goal of the forthcoming Internet Explorer 7 is to let users easily subscribe to blogs and Web sites via RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Attendees at the Blog Business Summit here on Friday got a sneak peek of this functionality in IE 7 running on Windows Vista.
The new version of the browser will include support for RSS, a technology that alerts users to new content posted to blogs and Web sites. The goal is to make subscription activities more mainstream by allowing users to add an RSS feed as easily as creating a Web page bookmark.
To subscribe to an RSS feed in IE 7, a user simply clicks on a subscribe button in a toolbar that runs across the top of the browser. Users can then see a preview of the feed and add it to a list of favorites.
"The XML code has been transformed into a nice view over the feed," said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft.
Microsoft also added in IE 7 a feature that lets users search through content by filtering down quickly to specific information.
The demonstrations showed how to add an RSS feed from the BBC news site and how to subscribe to a feed from an MSN shopping query for iPods.
"It's not just about IE, [but] about IE and Windows enabling a very easy experience to have subscriptions," Hachamovitch said. "The subscription experience [is] exposed at a very high level inside the browser."
The new feed subscription gets added to a list of feeds inside IE.
"The great thing about putting [subscriptions] in the browser is there is a common feed list," Hachamovitch said.
An unnamed prototype that uses list extensions to allow users to create customized feeds was also demonstrated.
"What about information that I want to subscribe to that isn't really a feed?" Hachamovitch asked.
In another demonstration, real estate information -- such as listing price, number of bedrooms, and square footage -- was collected and also put into a feed.
Questions from show attendees prompted a short debate about the recent controversy that has erupted over Microsoft's move to call RSS feeds Web feeds in the most recent beta version of IE 7. One attendee expressed concern that Microsoft may be trying to coop the terms of syndication or syndication technology in general.
Microsoft defended its use of the term, without saying definitely whether the name will stick in the final release of IE 7.
Everyone who understands the term RSS is at the bleeding edge, said Robert Scoble, evangelist on the Windows team at Microsoft. "The other 97 percent don't really understand the term."
"The issue with Web feeds versus RSS is that the public doesn’t know what RSS is or what Atom is," Scoble said.
"When you go to different sites it is listed as RSS or sometimes XML or Atom. When you use the term feeds or Web feeds it is easier for people to understand," Scoble said.
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