Microsoft Supports RSS
Wednesday, April 2, 2003 by Dave Winer.
When Microsoft screws up I'll be the first to report it; but to be fair, when they do something good, I must also tell you about that.
Yesterday, out of the blue, I read on Tim Ewald's weblog (he works at Microsoft) that they were supporting a format that I co-authored, RSS. I have been asking Microsoft to support this format for years. As I clicked on the link to one of the feeds, I held my breath. Would they support the spirit of RSS as well as the spec?
When the feed revealed itself I rejoiced. A thing of beauty. Immediately compatible with my software, and with any other RSS-based aggregator. A true milestone, a BigCo that's not throwing it's weight around, for now -- letting the independent developers lead. A fight we don't have to have. Quite a nice day. Thank you Microsoft.
In my first piece of 2002, I explained how small companies or individual developers who want to maintain their independence must give away some of their technology so that when the Big's (like Microsoft) have to be compatible. " If you want to profit from your innovative ground-breaking work, you'd better create a big target, and plan in advance for the incursion of the Big's, and make sure when they arrive, their customers know that a standard format or protocol exists."
RSS has now passed that test. As we go forward, today's spec will represent the baseline, the unchanging, compatible core that all content systems, search engines, and news aggregators support. There may be other formats in the future, but they will not be called RSS. They may or may not be authored by the big companies. It won't matter as long as behind it all, the market that RSS defines continues to exist.
Two years ago: "This time around, BigCo's are welcome in the market, of course, but seduce us, tease us with your features, impress us with your performance, spoil us with distribution, but no more [locked] trunks, we're riding up front with you."
The day after Microsoft announced their feeds, Cisco Systems, another huge technology company, rolled out twelve feeds covering all aspects of their business, all fully compatible. Fawcette Publishing, a company that serves Microsoft developers, followed suit. As the day went by, my mailbox filled with questions from developers at companies that work with and around Microsoft. One of them called it a bandwagon. A happy day. Bravo Microsoft!
PS: RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.