Microsoft RSS

What’s really behind Microsoft’s patent applications related to RSS?

Initial reports that Microsoft was trying to “patent RSS” turn out to be at best over-simplified.

At issue isn’t RSS itself, or an RSS reader, or feed publisher. What’s at issue is the way that RSS is handled in Vista, and in the combination of IE7 and Vista.

Nick Bradbury, in “Clarifying Microsoft’s RSS-related Patents,” does a great job of explaining the two key areas where Microsoft seems to believe it has something unique:

  1. Content syndication platform: describes the Windows RSS Platform, which is built into IE7/Vista and was announced at Gnomedex 2005 three days after the patent was filed. This platform exposes an API which enables applications to access the user’s shared feed subscriptions, providing object-oriented methods for reading, adding, deleting and updating feeds regardless of their format.
  2. Finding and consuming web subscriptions in a web browser: describes an API and user interface for discovering and exposing RSS feeds to other applications (specifically web browsers).

In other words, they’re trying to patent the mechanisms built into Vista for centralizing user RSS subscription information in the host OS, and then making it available to other applications running on the system.

And this is supposed to make me feel better? Oh, all they’re trying to do is take RSS feed information out of the browser and RSS reader and store them centrally, in the OS.
I’m with Steve Borsch at Connecting the Dots, who writes in “Microsoft RSS Patent Update: Manipulate, Maneuver and Morph“:

I’m instantly suspect of an RSS engine patent — with the sweeping scope of this one — which is clearly a process patent intended to “own” not the RSS protocol…but most of the ways it will be used.

So if Microsoft is successful in this patent application, will it be covered by the agreement with Novell?

Given that MS no longer develops IE for the Mac, is Apple working on a centralized feed consumption service in OS X?