Windows RSS platform

The Windows RSS platform is included in Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Vista, both due out later this year. The platform exposes feed and list data to all Windows applications via a common API, manages enclosure downloads, and applies common security settings to feed data and downloads.

Common Feed List

Internet Explorer 7 autodiscovery

Windows XP and Windows Vista users will soon be using Internet Explorer 7 as their default browser. They may notice a glowing orange button on their toolbar, click it, and start subscribing to feeds exposed on the page. A subscribed feed is added to the Common Feed List, a centralized list of subscriptions available to any application. A user may initiate a subscription inside Internet Explorer but the new subscription is immediately added to other feed aggregators integrated with the Common Feed List back-end such as RSS Bandit or FeedDemon.

Internet Explorer 7 supports the import and export of feed lists using OPML. Online aggregators may wish to write small applications for Windows to synchronize subscriptions and item status between machines. In the world of Internet Explorer 7 actions such as “Add to My Yahoo!” or “Add to Google” may become a one-time download and localized sync instead of buttons located on multiple site and blogs.

Download Engine

Microsoft’s feed engine downloads enclosure files using the system-level Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS). The service adjusts its bandwidth usage based on the activity of other applications and handles network dropouts and computer restarts without interrupting the file download.

All downloads are integrated with the system’s Attachment Execute Services, a list of allowed and blocked file types. Third-party applications such as antivirus programs and other security programs sometimes adjust these settings to prevent the download of executable files with potentially malicious code execution or files that could potentially carry malicious macros such as Microsoft Office documents.

By default all feeds have enclosure download turned off. The user can choose to automatically download enclosures and have the technology above kick in.

Feed Store

The Windows RSS platform downloads fresh feed content in the background on a regular schedule. Individual items are exposed at the object-level to any application that would like to leverage the data. It is possible to build your own feed aggregator on top of the locally stored folder, feed, item, and enclosure data exposed by the Windows RSS platform. You also have access to the raw XML if you would like to dig directly into the original data.

New and updated items are marked as unread within the feed store. Applications integrated with the common feed store can toggle this read or unread status for a shared item view across multiple applications.

More information

This brief summary will likely be out of date within days of publication. Check out Microsoft’s Team RSS blog or the Vista RSS developer center for the latest announcements and updates regarding the Windows RSS platform.