Saturday, December 24, 2005

The RSS Space is Evolving Before Our Very Eyes

Just when you've figured out which RSS reader you like the most, and set up feeds from the sites and blogs you like to read, comes news from Microsoft, via Outlook program manager Michael Affronti, that they're planning to include RSS reader functionality in the next version of Outlook (Outlook 12).

The practical implications of this for you and me is simple and direct - you'll get your RSS feeds as emails right in your Outlook - and file RSS feeds in folders, just like other emails. Interestingly, Yahoo! has already done this in Yahoo! Mail - that is, you can get RSS feeds right in your Yahoo!Mail inbox - and file them in folders, just like Outlook works.

While this technique is possible today in Outlook by using such third-party products from the NewsGators and Attensas of the world, users won't need them and will go directly with the built-in Microsoft option.

Robert Scoble, blogged about this in late December with a key point - users like to get their RSS feeds in many ways. Some like it in email, some in a web-based news reader, some in their blackberry, etc. And with podcasting on the rise, some like it on their iPods.

What's clear, however, is that being able to synchronize (e.g., only show RSS feeds you haven't read yet - regardless of where you first read it - in outlook, on a website, etc.) is a key feature that might give the current niche players a chance to survive the Microsoft onslaught. Of course, that's what people said about Netscape back when Microsoft first introduced Internet Explorer. Remember Netscape? Not many do.

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