IE7: watch out, Bloglines and

I’ve been preaching the gospel of RSS for some time now, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the first public release of Internet Explorer v7. Well, the beta has landed… and I think I can see where Microsoft is heading with this. Bloglines and, look out.
IE7 'favorites center' screenshot
True enough, the Firefox RSS icon has made its appearance. Subscribing to feeds is kept very simple; the icon lights up, you click on it, you see the feed in XSLT-styled form with a big link at the top – ‘subscribe to this feed’. Adding a feed is as simple as adding a bookmark, selecting a folder or creating a new one. And therein lies the key.
Microsoft is treating RSS feeds as part of the bookmark concept, but as a parallel track. When you call up the ‘favorites’ sidebar, you effectively have tabbed options at the top for what you might call ‘static’ favorites and ‘live’ feeds. So let’s click on ‘feeds’… and open a feed in the main content panel. Hold on… a left panel of folders and links? The feeds appearing in the web content window? No question, this is the Bloglines way of working. I suppose it makes sense to copy the market leader.
If you subscribe to any feeds using categories, such as any of BBC News’s offerings, you’ll be pleased to hear these are parsed properly, and displayed in a floating box on the right, indicating the number of items for each category. Yes, that’s right, very reminiscent of Throw in a bit of social functionality, and we’re there.
And then the penny drops. The key to this is Windows Live Favorites. So far, this service only offers an online place to store your static bookmarks. If they were to include live backup of your feeds as well, you suddenly unite the functionality of two leading players in the whole Web 2.0 world: one which happens to belong to Ask Jeeves, the other to Yahoo. And with feed consumption being (very) similar to reading a web page, it’s easy to see a seamless experience between client and online. The best of both worlds?
This clearly isn’t being aimed at power users. Even terms like ‘podcast’, which have entered the public consciousness, have been dodged, in favour of ‘attachment’. But Microsoft looks poised to do it again – let others innovate, then bundle the best bits together and call it an integrated solution. And we all know what happens next.