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Microsoft adds RSS support to Longhorn

The next version of Windows will support a Common RSS feed list and store to maintain user subscriptions across applications. Microsoft also announced a set of RSS extensions that it is making freely available under the Creative Commons share-alike attribution license.

At Gnomedex 5.0 in Seattle, Microsoft said it will support RSS (Really Simple Syndication) in "Longhorn," the next version of the Windows operating system. A Common RSS Feed List in Windows will maintain user subscription data across all applications. Microsoft also announced a set of extensions to RSS that it is making freely available under the Creative Commons share-alike attribution license.

RSS is finding increasing use as an XML-enabled standard for distributing information over the Web. Many industry viewers consider Longhorn to be late -- a client version of Longhorn is now expected to be released in 2006. But Microsoft, as it has in the past with HTML capabilities, felt a trait like RSS was useful enough to append to an already large feature sheet.

A host of small third-party software vendors has arisen to meet the emerging interest in RSS, and this community may be threatened by Microsoft's entry. Microsoft's pledge to make its Simple List Extensions for RSS available at no cost under the Creative Commons share-alike attribution license can be seen in part as an attempt to calm some of those fears. RSS support in Longhorn is said to include the Common RSS Feed List that maintains a list of the user's subscriptions across all applications; a Common RSS Data Store, which provides a single location where applications can access content that has been downloaded to the PC via RSS; and an RSS Platform Sync Engine that will automatically download data and RSS enclosures for use by an application.

Lessig is more enthused
At the time of the announcement, a surprising nod in Microsoft's direction came from Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at Stanford Law School, founder of Creative Commons, and a former thorn in Microsoft's side. Lessig was among prominent technology law experts called as Friends of the Court during the long-running U.S. Dept. of Justice-Microsoft antitrust trial of the 1990s. He and others generally asserted that Microsoft illegally used its powers as a monopoly in coupling its IE Web browser with Windows. At the time, Microsoft tried to have him declared 'unfriendly."

Lessig cheered the latest announcement, saying: "We salute Microsoft's decision to license its Simple List Extensions via Creative Commons, which offers creators a way to both protect their work[s] and to encourage broad uses of them."

Microsoft's flexibility with its intellectual property, Lessig continued, "will positively impact" a wide range of content publishers and the RSS community as a whole.

Related
Longhorn RSS - MSDN blogs, Channel 9
Simple List Extensions Specification - Longhorn Developer Center Home
Gnomedex 5.0 musing - Longhorn Team RSS Blog
RSS Really Simple Syndication explained - TechNet

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