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August 20, 2007

Use Windows Live Mail to read RSS feeds in Windows Vista

A lot of people ask me what my RSS feed reader is. They are usually shocked when I say Windows Live Mail. That’s right. Windows Live Mail is my main RSS feed reader. Let me explain.

Windows Live Mail utilizes the IE7 RSS feed store in Windows Vista. Internet Explorer 7 brings fourth the Windows RSS Platform. The Windows RSS Platform introduces a Common Feed List in which Windows Live Mail takes advantage of. Read about the Windows RSS Platform here from Walter, Program Manager on the IE Team. Nick blogged back in September of Newsgator taking advantage of the Common Feed List just like Windows Live Mail does today. The Windows RSS Platform is designed in such a way that developers can create apps that read, add, and delete from the Common Feed List. Windows Live Mail taps into the Common Feeds List allowing you to read manage and read your RSS feeds. Any feed subscribed to in IE7 automatically appears in Windows Live Mail.

Your RSS feeds are displayed in separate tab in Windows Live Mail. It is easy to bounce between your email and your RSS feeds. They are separate so that your email and RSS feeds aren’t jumbled together.

In the current beta of Windows Live Mail, you get a group of Search Folders at the top left-hand corner of the application above your first email account. You can add a variety of Search Folders for quick access to a variety of things like unread email or flagged items.

I have a Search Folder added for “Unread feeds”. This will display any unread feeds that come in. I changed the default update schedule for all my RSS feeds from 1 day to 1 hour. Every hour, my RSS feeds are updated and my “Unread feeds” Search Folder displays them for me with the number of unread feeds. This is how I keep track of my news and what everyone is saying out in the community.

When someone posts about something that grabs my attention but I want to look at it again later on, Windows Live Mail lets me quickly “flag” that post (you can flag new posts in RSS, email messages, and newsgroup posts). When I flag a post, it then appears under my “Flagged items” Search Folder I can then look at later on. Anything you flag will appear here which really helps me prioritize emails, updated feeds, and newsgroup posts.

Windows Live Mail gives the user all they need to manage their RSS feeds by utilizing the Common Feed List built in to Windows Vista through the Windows RSS Platform. It works great for me in managing all 450 of my RSS feeds I’m subscribed to (I recently scaled back the amount of feeds I read).

You can download the latest beta of Windows Live Mail here.

If you’re interested in what Microsoft is doing with RSS, you can head over to the Microsoft RSS Blog to get the latest from the folks at Microsoft working on RSS technologies such as the Windows RSS Platform.