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Outlook “12” To Include RSS Aggregator

Users of Microsoft’s upcoming Outlook “12” will be able to monitor Really Simply Syndication (RSS) feeds from within the e-mail client, according to a Microsoft official’s Weblog.

RSS is an XML-based syndication protocol that has been gaining in popularity in recent years as more news sites add feeds to send information updates to subscribers and with the explosion of Weblog usage.

Outlook doesn’t currently have its own RSS aggregator and reader. So third-party developers have come out with an array of readers, including Outlook plugins like NewsGator, Attensa and IntraVnews, which let users access RSS feeds from within Microsoft’s e-mail client.

However, the level of the playing field will undoubtedly shift when Microsoft releases Office “12” -- the Windows Vista version of Office -- in the second half of 2006, subsuming the role of third-party RSS readers and plugins directly into the e-mail client. It’s a technology “market” that Microsoft could not ignore due to its sheer size.

For example, a statement on NewsGator’s site states that there are “millions of news, information, blog and other content feeds published in RSS, with about 1 million feeds being added every month.”

“While RSS can be a complex technology to interact with, Outlook will merge the complexities and cover it with our friendly user interface,” Michael Affronti, Microsoft Outlook program manager, said on his blog last week.

“From the beginning of interacting with a feed using the subscription process through managing your feeds, their associated folder hierarchies, and potentially sharing feeds with others, Outlook will cover RSS in those situations from end-to-end . . . Interacting with RSS feeds will be extremely similar to managing your mail items now,” Affronti added.

Outlook 12 is the code name for the next major release of the e-mail client, due out in Office 12, which entered technical beta test in mid-November.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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