RSS Support in Longhorn

Microsoft has announced that it will include deep support for RSS (and Atom) in Longhorn. A lot of it will come through Internet Explorer 7.0 but there will also be a kind of RSS data store that can be accessed by other applications running on Longhorn. Microsoft's Robert Scoble links to a lot of news items and responses to this announcement. Robert has been an RSS evangelist long before he joined Microsoft.


This MSDN page has a lot of information on this new RSS support in Longhorn. It says “The RSS support in the Longhorn platform will be discussed in detail at Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in September, and PDC attendees will be provided with early versions of the software so they can begin exploring how to build RSS support into their applications.”


Microsoft has not forgotten how to embrace-and-extend. It is extending the RSS protocol. But Microsoft will make their extensions available under a Creative Commons License. I am afraid that most media will forget to mention that the Attribution Share alike 2.5 license that was chosen is a very liberal license, and will portray this embrace-and-extend act as an evil act. Just like when Microsoft extended HTML (like Netscape did) and Internet Explorer was declared to be an inseparable part of the operating system.


This MSDN page says: “A common data store provides a single location where applications can access any content that has downloaded to the PC via RSS – including text, pictures, audio, calendar events, documents and just about anything else. All applications will have access to this content for creating rich user experiences.”


I wonder what kind of data store will be used. It looks like the perfect match for WinFS, but as we know WinFS has been dropped from Longhorn, because it won't be finished in time. So will the data store be a glorified “Temporary Internet Files” folder or some kind of Jet derived database (like Exchange and Active Directory or previous versions of SharePoint use). Or will it be based on SQL Server 2005's database engine? That together with the object model layered on top (also shown on this MSDN page) would make it some kind of WinFS “light” pre-release. The article mentions that “enclosures” (think attachments) can be accessed from the Explorer.


Longhorn will also feature a new version of Outlook Express. The version that was included with the PDC03 build (build 4051) of Longhorn used WinFS. I wonder if Outlook Express 7.0 will use the old DBX datastore (in which attachments are not accessible via the Explorer and there is no API for other applications) or if it will share the architecture of this RSS data store.

Ever since the announcement that WinFS would not be released with Longhorn I have wondered what use it would be as add-on that is released one year after Longhorn (if ever). Because then no applications released with the OS will use it. And not a lot of applications will build on top of it, because you cannot expect it to just be there. The same thing hampered the adoption of .NET applications because even XP SP2 does not install the .NET framework by default ;(


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