Microsoft is apparently going to incorporate some form of RSS support into Longhorn. While this is generally a good idea, what I just don’t get is why folks are making a big fuss.

Longhorn loves RSS! Microsoft’s RSS Platform: The What Microsoft’s RSS Platform: The How Microsoft’s RSS Platform: The Why

Now this is not to undervalue the decision to use RSS by the developers at Microsoft in any way - this was a very good and reasonable choice, just not really a big deal outside niche tools tightly integrated to specific versions of Windows.

First, RSS is just groking a bit a XML fetched (usually) via and HTTP request. This is a code fragment or a library function at most, not an operating system function.

As a client-side or server-side developer I cannot reasonably drop support for pre-Longhorn versions of Windows, so any use of RSS will have to be through portable libraries. Since portable libraries to process RSS are neither difficult or rare, this is not a problem. The fact that Longhorn incorporates RSS in some form is irrelevant. It would have been nice of Microsoft offered their code as redistributable libraries usable with any (recent) version of Windows, but it’s really not a big deal either way.

As a user any RSS support built into Windows or Internet Explorer (or Mozilla for that matter) is largely irrelevant. I use RSS feeds (and Atom perhaps) for monitoring weblogs and newsfeeds, and run all the external feeds through an aggregator (Bloglines in my present case). Aggregators are both more performant for the end user (feeds are queried in background and ahead of time) and a more scalable solution for the services (one fetch instead of hundreds or thousands).

RSS support in the browser is nice - but I’d rather run things through an aggregator. Also since I use more than one machine, keeping the list of subscribed RSS feeds in a web application is a big win over replicating between desktops.

From the channel9 video: “This is user data, sitting on the PC…”

This is the key problem. This is user data that should be on a web server much more often than on an individual PC. The ability to grok calendar files is pretty neat, but this could just as readily be web application - except for the problem of getting data into and out of the Microsoft Exchange ghetto. The examples shown are fine, but nothing that would not be better served by a web application.