Many of the reviews and comments about the new beta of Microsoft’s Internet
Exploder Explorer, IE7, have focused on the RSS implementation. Adam Green at Darwinianweb.com got everybody’s attention when he said that he thought the browser would kill a lot of aggregators, and later amended this to say that while IE7’s handling of RSS wasn’t that great, it was probably good enough. As he put it — in a phrase I wish I had come up with
“Microsoft long ago mastered the trick of calculating exactly the minimal feature set needed to suck the air out of a market it wants to enter.”
That is exactly right. It’s not that IE7’s version of the RSS reader is that great — in fact, it is pretty much “just like favourites,” as Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 puts it — it’s that it’s probably just good enough for most people. Dave Winer might be right when he says that the “river of news” is a better model for an aggregator, but IE7 doesn’t really have a dog in that race. It just wants something simple that people can use without too much trouble.
Is the way they have done it good enough? That remains to be seen. RSS is still not easy enough, as my friend Paul Kedrosky keeps pointing out, and people are (in general) lazy. Not everyone wants to see if they can break Robert Scoble’s record for most RSS feeds subscribed to. Kent Newsome asks why he should care about IE7, and the answer is that he probably shouldn’t.
We are all “edge cases,” as someone has pointed out, and I would have to go along with Jeff Nolan – IE7 wasn’t designed for us. Simple as that. We can keep on using Firefox and Performancing and Greasemonkey and all those great things, but the fact is IE still has 80 per cent of the browser market, and it got that way by not being on the edge.