... on my earlier Microsoft and RSS post. The list extensions are boring and simple. The fact that they have been released under a CC license is mind blowing in that it came from Microsoft and is an absolutely brilliant PR play by Microsoft. The IE7 browser integration that they're planning is also rather boring. As I sit here using my Firefox browser, I can already see a little icon in the browser frame telling me that there is an RSS feed available for this site. No innovation there, just Microsoft playing catch up. What IS significant is the platform integration. Integrating feeds into the operating system and making them available to all applications running on the system is a huge deal. Opening up the types of content that can be delivered is a huge deal. This is an extremely important step.
On the downside, although Microsoft is supporting Atom in their platform, they appear to be trying to kneecap it. The overall feeling was that Atom is interesting but it's really not needed. However, as good as RSS is for many things, it's not good for all things. Microsoft's own list extension demonstrates that fact. Atom has some very real technical advantages over RSS. That's not to say that RSS is bad, or legacy, or whatever. Atom has some strong technical merit to it in areas where RSS is weak.
Here's my concern: will Microsoft's platform be open enough to allow folks to extend the platforms capability to support Atom and Atom-specific extensions? Or will Microsoft lock down the platform to only support formats and extensions that are explicitly blessed by Microsoft? I'm not just asking this question in a vacuum of course, as we've seen similar behavior in the past with things like Microsoft's DNS implementation, their Web Browser implementation, and their support for a broad collection of other standards. Microsoft is in a position to kneecap innovation by others simply by choosing not to allow their platform to be extended in ways Microsoft hasn't blessed.
Despite Atom's technical strengths relative to RSS, RSS has such momentum in the marketplace today that if the Atom folks came out and tried to bash their advantages around, claiming that RSS is legacy, that RSS sucks, that RSS is somehow closed and proprietary because it wasn't developed using a community process, they're going to come out on the losing side of things. The people who support the Atom approach need to *demonstrate* the advantages of using Atom by deploying it side-by-side with RSS. Demonstrate the technical merit through example rather than evangelization and rhetoric. Show me the code, show me the benefit. Until you do, get used to hearing more and more people talk about RSS.
However, if the platform does not allow the Atom crowd to deploy their stuff side-by-side with RSS -- to put it on an equal footing with RSS -- the Atom crowd will never have a viable opportunity to demonstrate it's advantages. If Microsoft chooses to not allow their platform to be extensible in the formats and extensions it is capable of handling, Microsoft could lock out Atom's ability to prove itself. Doing so restricts innovation. Doing so eliminates competition. Doing so hurts the market.
So my admonition to Microsoft is this: don't play favorites. RSS is good, Atom is good. Both have their relative strengths and weaknesses. Allow the market to determine which is best. If allowed to co-exist with equal footing in the market, both are likely to win.
p.s. As an aside, I see nothing in the Lists extension spec that would keep it from working within an Atom feed as well.
Let me clarify...