IE7, Longhorn, and RSS

There has been a flurry of talk on the web this week following Microsoft’s announcement, stating that RSS capabilities will be part of Longhorn and IE7.

One of the official announcements was made on the IE Blog’s Site. There was also a follow-up post on the same site.

There now exists a blog for the people working on the RSS feature: Longhorn Team RSS Blog.

In my eyes, this could be a good thing. Several other browsers (Mozilla, FireFox, Safari) have RSS autodiscovery features, where they automatically check for RSS feeds for any page visited, and allow you to create a “live bookmark” that gets updated along with the site. Internet Explorer, like in many other situations (security, standards support, features, etc) is the odd one out. Having the ability to automatically check for a site’s RSS feeds would be a great feature for IE7.

Additionally, making RSS intrinsically available in IE7 and Longhorn would give it (RSS) a lot more exposure, and encourage it’s use as a format for quickly distributing news and updates.

But there are potential security issues raising their heads as well. I don’t think it would be necessary to integrate this capability into Longhorn; having that ability in a web browser is one thing, having it in an operating system is quite another. It cold be possible Longhorn’s built-in RSS reader would open another avenue for virus writers to dump viruses on readers’ computers along with the latest news…not good. Emphasis mine:

For example, the primary mechanism behind podcast, RSS enclosure, can be used to deliver worms and worse to the desktops. If there are any vulnerabilities in iPod (or any MP3 player hooked up to podcast sync client) codec, then podcasting is a good way to deliver overflow inducing content.
Don Park

It is inevitable, without a doubt. When Longhorn comes out, attackers will pounce on every new thing to see if Microsoft did it correctly. You can bet RSS integration will be one of those things attackers will want to exploit

So while there is the expectation for this to be a good thing, it also has the potential to also be a bad thing, due to the possible security issues. But I hope that these features are done right, so it doesn’t become another annoyance for computer users. And again, if done right, this could be a boon for RSS as a new net standard.

Me, I think I’ll just wait and see.