The Syndicate conference is in full swing, and mine is proving a very worthwhile trip.
I spent some time yesterday with the folks from Microsoft, and got a demo of their upcoming products around RSS, IE7 and Outlook 12.
Let me start by saying that Microsoft has a very big view on RSS -- much larger than the media has picked up. For instance, Microsoft is not just integrating RSS into a wide range of applications -- it's actually putting RSS into its operating system. Microsoft has created a new technology I believe it is calling RSS Store. This is a repository of all RSS feeds and associated information that is maintained within the operating system. This OS feature will be part of the upcoming Vista release, but it's also going to be available for XP.
The RSS Store provides an API to this shared repository that any application can use. For instance, users of a product like FeedDemon can get an upgraded version that sits atop this store and view the same feeds and manage the same subscriptions, as, say, IE7. Each user has a list of subscriptions, feeds, etc., and every application on his or her desktop that uses the RSS Store can provide a view into those subscriptions.
The really exciting news to me was that Outlook 12 uses the RSS Store as well. The functionality is nearly identical to what I get with the RSS Popper and NewsGator plug-ins. A folder containing a number of subfolders, one for each feed, appears in my folder list. A subfolder's title appears in bold if it contains unread articles/messages. It's very intuitive and very effective.
All-in-all, this is a great advancement for RSS. By building RSS into the operating system and making users' subscriptions and feeds available to any and every application they run, Microsoft effectively has removed many of the trade-offs facing users today, and has enabled a new degree of transparent usage.
In a nod to the new kinder, gentler Microsoft, it's even collaborated with the Firefox browser folks to use the same icons (seriously). So the world will start to converge on a single image for representing RSS feeds.
Lastly, from everything I could tell, it sounds like Microsoft will not have any issues with individualized RSS. Solutions like Silverpop's should work out of the box with every new product Microsoft ships in 2006.