TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Microsoft Rethinks RSS Name Change

Microsoft Rethinks RSS Name Change

Elizabth Montalbano (
Fri, 19 Aug 2005 13:22:13 -0500

Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service

A well-known Microsoft Web logger is downplaying the proposed use of a
new name for RSS (Really Simple Syndication) in the next version of
Internet Explorer following several days of intense discussion about
the notion of rebranding RSS in the Web log community.

In an interview Wednesday, Robert Scoble, a Microsoft technical
evangelist and writer of a popular Web log, or blog, about the
software giant, says the company had not made a final decision as to
whether it would rename RSS "Web feeds" in the final version of IE 7
the way it has in the beta version that is available now.

"We never said Microsoft has decided [to rebrand RSS]," Scoble says.
"It's a year ahead of [Windows Vista] being released and we're trying
to work with the community to get some consensus."

In the IE 7 Beta 1, RSS feeds are called "Web feeds," a fact first
brought to light in an August 2 "IEBlog" post by Jane Kim, a Microsoft
program manager for RSS in IE.

Controversy Sparked

The post sparked a flurry of controversy in the blogs of Microsoft
watchers, some of whom prematurely viewed Microsoft's decision to
rebrand RSS in the beta as an indication of the final name for RSS in
the full version of the product. Some even worried that there might be
a larger plan by Microsoft to recast RSS in its own image.

IE 7 will be included in the next version of the Windows operating
system, Windows Vista, which is scheduled to ship toward the end of
2006. Microsoft has said it would offer broad support for RSS
throughout Windows Vista, including an implementation in IE 7.

Both Scoble and Mike Torres, MSN Spaces lead program manager for
Microsoft, claimed in their blogs that Microsoft has no plan to
rewrite RSS but is trying to come up with a way to name the technology
in a way that is generally accepted in the industry and among Web

In his blog "Torres Talking," Torres mentioned the Mozilla
Foundation's Firefox Web browser, which calls RSS feeds "Live
Bookmarks," and Newsgator Online and Bloglines, which both call them
"feeds," in his defense of Microsoft's choice to call RSS "Web feeds"
in IE 7. He said this shows the industry as a whole may be interested
in using the RSS technology but not the "RSS" brand.

Nevertheless, comments on the blogs of Torres, Scoble, and Dave Winer,
a software guru who writes the popular "Scripting News" Web log,
ignited a heated discussion of Microsoft's plans for RSS in the blog
community and in published reports by the IDG News Service and other
publications over the past few days.

Scoble says in an interview that because of Microsoft's "history" --
which famously includes attempts to create proprietary implementations
for standard technology -- the company wants to be careful and "do the
right thing" in regards to RSS.

In one widely publicized case over the branding of an accepted
technology standard, Microsoft ended up paying Sun Microsystems $1.9
billion last year to settle a seven-year lawsuit over the software
giant's implementation of Java.

"I'm fighting that [former] path," Scoble says of Microsoft's careful
consideration of how to include and name RSS in its products. "We're
just trying to be compliant with everyone here not do something evil."

Copyright 2005 PC World Communications, Inc.

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