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Microsoft “Longhorn:” RSS-use on Steroids

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Right now 2% of web users are employing some kind of RSS news reader software, whether web based or PC or Mac-based. These RSS-reader programs basically aggregate headlines and article summaries from all RSS-providing online sources which a user selects. These “online sources” have to employ an RSS feed creation program of some kind to produce their regular “feeds.” A user employing an RSS Reader can essentially “corner,” on a regular basis, most every bit of published information that pertains to a respective subject.

Being the hardcore blogger that I am, I too have wanted to incorporate RSS or “Really Simple Syndication” in to a blog. I figured that sometimes I mention stuff on that has to do with media and or technology and a few people might be interested in getting a regular feed on it. Thus, began my still on-going quest to piece together the business of RSS feeds: their creation, transmission, storage and consumption.

Early on I realized Blogger provided Atom-type syndication built in with their free blogging service. And, I have happily employed it (of course, there are still a few grey areas that I need to fill in). But, of course, that was not good enough for me; I wanted to be like the larger, grown-up sites out their like or, that make skillful use of RSS. So, I went ahead and picked up “FeedForAll” software which is basically another feed-creation platform; but, this has presented another series of seemingly undefined grey areas for which I need appropriate definition. But, on I persevere, using chat rooms, discussion boards, tips from other bloggers more experienced than myself to sort out the deals with RSS.

So, why do I bother, why do I care? Because, I kind of believe that there is going to be growth in the numbers of people using RSS to get their information. This is not a new belief; analysts have been suggesting that RSS is “the new email” for the last 2-3 years. Right now it’s used by 2% of web users, which reminds me of the limited number of people on the web in the early and mid-90s; but, this figure could very well grow to 50-60%+, just as grew the number of web users and broadband users over the last 10-15 years.

One of the main reasons for the growth of RSS could be Microsoft’s new operating system, Code-Named “Longhorn.” Mr. Bill Gates has apparently been thinking, “if people are going to read RSS Feeds, then they better be doing it using a Microsoft product.” Just as when Gates began incorporating a Web-browser, Explorer, in to his operating systems, starting with Windows 95, his company now plans to incorporate an RSS feed reader in to his “Longhorn” system. This “free” RSS news reader could, however, interrupt any flow of money to software companies making stand-alone RSS News Readers (such as the one I just purchased(!) It’s all very similar to how Microsoft’s Internet Explorer took the Browser market from Netscape Navigator in the 1990s by packaging it together with new Microsoft PC Operating Systems.

The good news about Longhorn is for the people providing RSS content to other people. Not too long after Longhorn hits the market, you will probably see the number of web users reading RSS News Feeds climb from 2% to 20%, a 10-fold increase. I speculate that this will happen because Microsoft will be putting the matter of RSS front-and-center before a vast number of new computer or OS buyers. And, as old computers (and their operating systems) are gradually traded for new, you could see the aforementioned number, as I said, climb to half or more of all web-users before too long.

So, this is good news for content producers. It means there will be more people who will be seeking regular information and articles in an RSS-format and who will read what you write. Now, if only I can get my RSS feeds and programs organized in the mean time…


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