Archive for the '.net' Category

Microsoft Patents WHAT?

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Dear Amar Ghandi, Group Program Manager of the Windows RSS team,
You guys actually invented the RSS parser and feed API? Your patent claim is baffling:

“A content syndication platform, such as a web content syndication platform, manages, organizes and makes available for consumption content that is acquired from the Internet. In at least some embodiments, the platform can acquire and organize web content, and make such content available for consumption by many different types of applications. These applications may or may not necessarily understand the particular syndication format. An application program interface (API) exposes an object model which allows applications and users to easily accomplish many different tasks such as creating, reading, updating, deleting feeds and the like.”

That describes tons of applications both corporate and open source. Any programmatic API like ROME comes to mind. Did you create the RSS Platform in Windows Vista before all of them? Please do tell, I’m all ears.
(More objections by Dave Johnson here. CNET coverage here.)

A Small UniveRSS

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Microsoft has released a beta version of UniveRSS to show off Windows Vista’s graphicy goodness. It is a 3D browser for RSS feeds… that’s right, 3D. If you’re scratching your head at the usefulness of that kind of environment, keep scratching.

I scratched, but I couldn’t resist. I don’t have Vista, but IE7 and .NET 3 are enough to get it working on my WinXPSP2 machine. The performance wasn’t great, but it was enough to see what they’re trying to accomplish.

The short story is: They’re showing off some really simple 3D stuff, not an RSS reader. It picks up feeds from your IE7 feeds folder, then displays a spinning cube with the feed’s image displayed on each side. Click the cube to get a in-world browser, and right-click to get out of it again. The browser doesn’t even support the full HTML set from IE7, so formatting is rudimentary.

Minority Report for RSS it aint.

With simplistic 3D presentation and substandard feed presentation, I’m scratching my head on why they released it. I’ll invoke “Remember Its a Beta” from my Microsoft Max RSS experience and give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt, for now.

However, I just don’t think this kind of interface makes for good browsing of RSS and Atom content. 3D space is better for link analysis and exploring hyper-dimensional data that can’t be easily visualized in 2D. (I’m doing just that sort of thing at work right now with Java3D, so I’ve got a little background in this opinion.)

In the meantime, here are some screenshots to let you see what UniveRSS looks like without needing to install it:

universs1 universs3 universs4 universs5 universs6

The Next Morning Update

It occured to me in the shower this morning that Microsoft probably isn’t trying to show off their 3D skillz, nor an RSS reader, nor a revolutionary way to display information.  They’re providing a demo with source code of Avalon AKA Windows Presentation Foundation.  Now that makes sense.