RSS has been popular with bloggers and the tech community since Dave Winer created it so people could “subscribe” to Web sites. But with Microsoft’s operating system, Internet Explorer browser, and other software applications being the ‘choice’ of the vast majority of net users, RSS was not going to be used by the masses until RSS was delivered by Microsoft.
The time’s arrived with the delivery of ‘newsfeeds’ through Internet Explorer 7, the new browser Microsoft released a couple weeks ago. As Brier reports:
IE7 will soon be the way most people access the Web, and one of its biggest improvements is a new orange and white ‘Feed’ button.
With IE7, you can subscribe to feeds and read them right in the browser. When you visit a Web site with feeds, the orange button lights up. You click to subscribe, and the feeds appear in a list alongside your Favorites site list.
Heavy RSS users will still use RSS feed aggregators like Feeddemon, Netnewswire, and Google Reader. But Brier’s likely right that Microsoft’s smart simple approach “will do for feeds what Google did for search.”
As to the impact of mass RSS use, Brier quoted Jacob Nielsen, a Web usability expert:
Once feeds are mainstream, they’ll become a new channel for companies to communicate with customers — a third leg of the stool, along with e-mail and Web pages.
…Feeds blend the experience of using computers and the Web by delivering a stream of content to the desktop that can be checked at a glance. Desktop-feed readers that display weather, headlines and messages are a key feature in Vista; they’re also part of Apple’s OS X software and Google’s downloadable Sidebar program.
There may be less emphasis on Web pages as consumers and companies focus more on feed-driven applications run on the PC using data from the Web.
It was May, 2004 when I read Bill Gates thought email and websites were outmoded means of business communication, with RSS and blogs being the answer. I’ve been waiting a long time for this Bill.