A few days ago, in my blog post entitled Some Thoughts on the IE 7 Beta 2 Preview release I described the RSS features of IE 7 as unsatisfactory and disappointing. It seems I'm not the only one who dislikes what the Internet Explorer team has done with RSS.

In his post RSS Is a Glorified "Favorites" Feature Scott Karp writes

RSS is in Internet Explorer 7!!! The blogosphere is shouting from the rooftops. Yawn. I tried RSS in IE7, and it highlights the true shortcoming of current RSS applications — it’s really not much of an improvement over “favorites” or “bookmarks.”

IE7 goes so far as to put the RSS reader in same menu as favorites (or as TDavid puts it “A separate “Feed Center” exists inside the Favorites area.”), which appears in a left-hand navigation column.

So what’s the real innovation over Favorites/Bookmarks in terms of user experience? That it “automatically updates”? That I can get everything all in one place? That it highlights what’s new?

In his post RSS Really Sucks Paul Kedrosky writes

A while back I wrote that RSS sucks, and now that I've had some more time to think about it I've come to a deeper and more nuanced conclusion: RSS Really Sucks. The point was driven home recently as I read articles by people arguing that IE7 from Microsoft does RSS well enough to kill off a few standalone aggregators. I suppose, although that's a little like saying that buggy whips drive milk-wagons so well that people will soon stop using willow branches to goad horses.

Why? Because, as Scott Karp points out, the IE7 RSS implementation is as glorified "favorites" -- bookmarks, in other words. And they are particularly irritating bookmarks, ones that continually change and needle you as more "information" (I use that advisedly) comes beeping and streaming into your computer.

The main reason I am so irritated by IE 7's lackluster user experience around RSS is that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Using IE 7 will be the first time millions of people will be introduced to RSS and it would be unfortunate if they come away from thinking that is potentially transformative and liberating technology is simply a kind of "bookmarks that nag you all the time" feature.

I've heard some people say that if Microsoft integrates a high quality RSS reader into the browser then it would kill the desktop aggregator market which is the kind of thing Microsoft gets in legal trouble for all the time. My response? That is Death by Risk Aversion. What matters is making end users happy, not worrying about making features that suck just enough that people have to go out and buy software that does the job well so we don't get in legal trouble. 


Friday, February 3, 2006 1:42:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
>>What matters is making end users happy, not worrying about making features that suck just enough that people have to go out and buy software that does the job well so we don't get in legal trouble.

Amen to that. I'd _love_ to see a RSS Bandit-style aggregator bundled into Windows. Hell, since the Feed API is accessible to all desktop aggregators, MS won't even get into trouble as long as it's possible to uninstall the aggregator.

Another example of the "let's do the minimum to keep people happy" is the decision to not have antivirus in Vista. I know a LOT of people who worry about viruses on their Windows PCs, and bundling an antivirus would do a lot more to assuage their worries than telling them about User Account Protection. Again, if the antivirus's uninstallable, how is there an antitrust problem?

Friday, February 3, 2006 2:31:10 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I disagree with a lot of this criticism. There are a few things that are not obvious at first use, like what makes a feed read or unread for example, but I believe IE 7.0 provides the most usefull features of RSS/ATOM feeds and it isn't an obtrusive feature. After all, isn't the best feature of feeds that it provides an easy to consume notification/event stream?

Dare, don't you think that maybe your so critical of IE because you've been brooding over a feed reader and feeds in general for several years?

The other thing I don't understand is why your so critical of feed support in IE 7, and you have been not at all critical of feed support on www.start.com, and now www.live.com.

When I compare the features and ease of use of IE 7 and www.live.com, honestly both leave me wanting more. For example, there's no way to organize your feed list AT ALL on live.com! Hasn't start.com been incubating long enough to include that feature? IE 7 has it!

However, I do quickly remember that no application is perfect and, because I've used a ton of feed reading applications, that my expectations are much higher than the average, non-puter geek.
Saturday, February 4, 2006 12:00:35 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
IE may suck as an RSS reader compared to real RSS readers, but compared to Firefox, it's absolutely mind-blowing. A readable document instead of a frightening DOM tree is a big difference.
Saturday, February 4, 2006 5:40:22 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
"RSS [...] is simply a kind of "bookmarks that nag you all the time" feature."

Compared to Firefox' Live Bookmarks - which even uses the word Bookmark for feeds and does not provide a styled view (in the sense of readable, see Mikes comment) of the content - IE 7 does a good job on introducing RSS to the masses. But maybe I am too biased toward the "River of News" way to consume feeds and IE 7s reading experience seems pretty good in that regard.
Saturday, February 4, 2006 3:14:42 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
This is a rather biased selection of comments to underscore your perspective. Shame you did't throw some light to other posts that were more positive. The deeback wasn't all bad, and you try to make it seem as such.
Sunday, February 5, 2006 3:47:18 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Dare has no interest in fairness in this contest. This is just headline seeking.
Sunday, February 5, 2006 5:59:05 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Hello Dare,

I am sorry to say that these days you are over critical of any topic, also it seems that you are losing the touch of giving cool feedbacks. Your feedbacks are more of a rant lately.

One question that comes up in my mind is that, you and the IE7 team work for the same company, so why dont you guys team up to exchange ideas instead of communicating through blogs?? And dont tell us that you dont have time to collaborate with the IE team, you have been working on RSS bandit for so long in your personal time; you can surely spend some time talking to the IE team personally.

I think both the parties, you and the IE team should shed their pride and work together for the betterment of Microsoft and the users in general.

Pronob Deb
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