Category Archives: Microsoft

RSS vs WebFeed ?

Just wanted to toss in my 2 cents on the whole RSS vs Web Feed issue.

A brief summary: RSS (really simple syndication) lets you subscribe to websites, podcasts and other things. Once you have worked out how to use it your internet browsing is changed forever. Instead of having to go back to a website to see if its changed, your subscription service sends you the latest news and headlines.

There is an RSS feed for this site – its the orange icon on the bottom right hand corner of the browser. If you have an RSS agregator or reader, you put the link into it and you started getting updates of the site when I make them. You don’t have to give me any information like an email address to subscribe to a newsletter. You come and go as you please.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Microsoft thinks so too and the are incorporating RSS into the next version of Windows – Vista – formerly known as longhorn. It’s due out late next year. Probably. But Microsoft are planning on putting RSS into Vista in a big way – especially Internet Explorer 7.

However Microsoft want to call it Web Feeds – not RSS. They feel RSS is a bit techy and complicated to explain. Web Feed sounds simple and easy enough. Of course this is upsetting a lot of people who claim Microsoft are trying to reinvent RSS in their own image. Much like they tried to do with html, css, media files, document files and pretty much anything else.

I actually like the term Web Feed. It makes it easier to explain to someone what it is. RSS just sounds weird and unfriendly. I think once you know what it is – rather than what it stands for – its a good name for it. But the 30 second conversation of introducing it to someone and explaining what it does – I’ve just had too many of those in my life of being a geek. Why can’t we find a simpler way of describing things?

Eventually I think the term Web Feed will slowly become more accepted. We will probably still use the RSS / XML buttons – but know them as Web Feed buttons.

Windows Vista – Second thoughts

As you probably know, Microsoft announced last Friday that the official name for the next version of Windows will be Windows Vista.

At the time, in this previous post, I commented that it wasn’t a bad choice of name. I speculated that Windows Vista might be an “all in one” product that could be installed into many platforms – tablet, media centre, home PC etc. It kinda fits with the XBox 360 name – implying that this product will do a wide range of things.

Well, I have thought about the name Vista for a few days. Mentioned it to a few people. The response is pretty much a universal “what”?

It’s just a lame name Microsoft. It doesn’t inspire, excite, invoke passion. It sounds boring! Politically correct. Designed not to offend. Limp!

XP sounded like a statement. An exclamation! You had an XBox for your games box and a XP for your personal computer!

Vista sounds like the marketing wankers have taken over the building.

It reminds me of the time Sega renamed the Katana into the Dreamcast. Took a damn sexy name and let the marketing vegans change it. And that worked out well for them… Did the Dreamcast even last 12 months?

I doubt that Vista will cause Microsoft to fall into ruin. But I think its a step backwards rather than forward.

Windows Vista – One Windows to rule them all ?

It has been leaked to the internet that the next version of Windows will be officially called Windows Vista.

Known by the codename of Longhorn for several years while in development, it is expected to be announced at 6am Pacfic Time, 22nd July that the release shall be known as Windows Vista.

Robert Scoble mentioned an upcoming announcement on his weblog earlier today – he pointed to an announcement from Microsoft would be made available at this URL.

Soon after, AnAndTech, Channel 9 and others spread the word that the name had been leaked.

Replacing the XP title used since 2001, Vista refers to wide ranging. Perhaps a good name referring to its ability to be installed on a wide variety of environments such as the home, office, servers, media centres, tablet PC’s etc.

Since XP spawned many variations such as the Media Centre and Tablet configuration. It has been speculated that they might be eventually rolled into one product that would install what was necessary depending on the system it was being installed on.

The advantages of having an “All In One” installer being balanced by a more complex installation routine, and perhaps some inflexibility of upgrading components of one system or another.

The term Windows Vista does dovetail nicely with the XBox 360 product. Another label that suggests a wide range of applications.

Microsoft to buy Gator?

One of the interesting stories from a couple of weeks ago was Microsoft were going to buy the parent company of Gator – the ad-ware / spyware thats in so many p2p programs.

Well it seemed like the world was going to end. Had Microsoft gone mad? What idiot was behind this idea?

I think it would be fantastic for Microsoft to buy them – and then shut them down!!!

With all the effort Microsoft are putting into security and anti-spyware tools. There has to come a point where you just say “Buy them out and close them down”.

Imagine if Microsoft re-released all the p2p programs without the spyware included? Wouldn’t that be a good thing? Might certainly be in line with a sharing, caring Microsoft that seems to be trying to emerge.

So what happen’s next? Someone else comes up with a plan to make millions by distributing their spyware infected program? Well there is that risk. But its a lot harder today to make a big impact with a new program. A lot of what is out there is established. There are great new services like Skype and Flickr that have made an impact in the last 12 months. But someone launching a new (say) MP3 program today would be up against it.

I don’t think the Gator deal has been completely squashed yet either. No one is confirming, no one is denying.

MS Betting Big – Again

One of the interesting lines I picked up from Microsoft’s announcement that RSS will be integrated into IE7 and Longhorn – they were Betting Big on RSS.

That’s a big statement from Microsoft. They don’t say it often – probably about every 5 years. Previous Big Bets have been The Internet, Security and XBox.

RSS will no doubt be a huge part of the way we deal with computers in the near to long term future.

Since I installed the Desktop Sidebar with its integrated RSS aggregator, it has completely changed they was I surf the web. A common story among anyone else who has explored RSS.

I think RSS will eventually evolve to a point where most people dont know they are using it. And that will be a good thing. Services will just use RSS, and people will just use those services because they are simple and they work. Few “users” will care what is behind it all.

RSS could indeed be The Main Reason why people will upgrade to Longhorn ! Certainly no-one seems to fussed with the announced features so far. Not when most of them can already be added on to XP with a minimum of fuss.

Including my Desktop Sidebar. It’s a brilliant tool and I love it – but its a free add-on for XP and it works today. I don’t need to wait another 18 months for to pay for Longhorn to get it.

An interesting thought: What would have happened if Microsoft were “on time” with Longhorn and were releasing it now? RSS wouldn’t have made it – just as Windows 95 missed out on the internet because it shipped just as it was taking off.

Longhorn would have shipped without native support for probably the most important bit of technology emerging today. Everyone would then be complaining and waiting impatiently for Longhorn Mk II.

Sometimes you win…

Who is this Microsoft?

No one could deny that Microsoft has been taking a pounding from press and users for the last 12 months. Even more so than usual.

They have been beaten up about security, bugs, IE6 being stale, delays in SP2, delivery of SP2, SP2 breaking things, etc etc.

The lead-up to and release of Firefox from Mozilla got a huge amount of press, Apple have been scoring big with OSX Tiger, iTunes, iPods – even one that had no screen that everyone said would be a fizzer. Instead its taken over the market.

Probably apart from Halo 2, Microsoft has been pretty “uncool” for most people. Lornhorn has been plagued by negative stories about features being pulled out, expected delays and a general “why bother”?

A lot of people have called Longhorn “XP SP3” (which initially it was supposed to be). However the funniest term for it I have seen is Windows ME2 :) But lately they seem to be turning a corner. They have been releasing some new software – Acrylic and so on. Even if most people thought the new stuff sucked – at least they were talking about something new.

MSN Search seems to be getting a lot of good feedback. I doubt it will ever overtake google in the foreseable future – but never say never. They have gone from nowhere to industry top 4 since they started.

Of course the big announcement at Gnomedex about IE7 including support for RSS, and Longhorn in general supporting RSS – was a huge positive. Especially as the method for integrating it will be available under Creative Commons license .

The Channel 9 forums and Robert Scoble’s Weblog have been a major positive for the company.

With the upcoming Lornhorn beta testing program about to start, a lot of positive stories have started to be written about it.

A lot of people are writing Microsoft off – I think they have turned a corner.