Yesterday, the blogosphere was all a-twitter as Niall Kennedy announced that he has joined Microsoft and will be helping to turn Live.com into a platform for feeds. Live.com will be the default homepage for Windows Vista as well. Cool, and congratulations Niall!
Richard McManus over at ZDNet posted his interpretation:
- It’s going to be a huge boost for RSS, because everyone will be using it and aggregating it.
- It will mean pushing Windows Live search at the expense of MSN ad revenue.
It will mean the world of gadgets (aka widgets or modules) and web services will go mainstream.
Richard’s right — an RSS platform in the OS will be huge — just like Microsoft’s inclusion of TCP/IP in the OS was huge for the internet in the Windows 95 time frame.
Does it really matter if MSN ad revenue is impacted? By moving search into Windows Vista directly, Microsoft is ensuring that the first search the customer encounters will be Microsoft. Live.com search still has advertising in it. Revenues are likely to be larger when generated directly from Vista as opposed to MSN. Monetizing the desktop with ad revenue was the dream that Brad Chase had in 1998 when the Channel Bar was conceived. It looks as if it might finally become a reality.
And on a cautionary note, does anyone remember Active Desktop, the technology that the Channel Bar was based upon? Rom Impas, Joe Belfiore, myself and some others dreamt this dog up in the days just after the Windows 95 launch. It allowed you to embed HTML content and ActiveX controls on the Windows desktop. Turned the whole thing into a page full of live feeds and widgets. We thought it was cool, but after using it for a bit everyone turned it off because it wasn’t really that compelling and it was a resource pig. Active Desktop or gadgets… hmmm… the gadgets are cool, but after a while I just turned them off… more feeds are more compelling to me than a widget that lets me calculate foreign exchange. The moral of the story? The potential of the RSS platform is huge, but it’s not in recreating yesterday’s failed push platforms like Active Desktop, and PointCast.
"Live.com. Bride of Active Desktop. Come see the movie! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry!"
… and hopefully the villagers won’t feel they have to kill the monster at the end.