Whether the content streams are eventually called RSS ,Web feeds or some other name, a key design goal of the forthcoming Internet Explorer 7 is to let users easily subscribe to blogs and websites via Really Simple Syndication (RSS).
Attendees at the Blog Business Summit in San Francisco last week got a sneak peek of this functionality in IE 7 running on Windows Vista.
The new version of the browser will include support for RSS, a technology that alerts users to new content posted to blogs and websites. The goal is to make subscription activities more mainstream by allowing users to add an RSS feed as easily as creating a Web page bookmark.
To subscribe to an RSS feed in IE 7, a user simply clicks on a subscribe button in a toolbar that runs across the top of the browser. Users can then see a preview of the feed and add it to a list of favourites.
"The XML code has been transformed into a nice view over the feed," general manager of the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft, Dean Hachamovitch, said.
Microsoft also added in IE 7 a feature that lets users search through content by filtering down quickly to specific information.
The demonstrations showed how to add an RSS feed from the BBC news site and how to subscribe to a feed from an MSN shopping query for iPods.
"It's not just about IE, [but] about IE and Windows enabling a very easy experience to have subscriptions," Hachamovitch said. "The subscription experience [is] exposed at a very high level inside the browser."
The new feed subscription gets added to a list of feeds inside IE.
"The great thing about putting [subscriptions] in the browser is there is a common feed list," Hachamovitch said.
An unnamed prototype that uses list extensions to allow users to create customised feeds was also demonstrated.
"What about information that I want to subscribe to that isn't really a feed?" Hachamovitch asked.