NewsGator, IE7, Microsoft, and my first ‘fanboy’ accusation

I got an email today, which was sent to several aliases at  I was typing up a response, when I noticed the same text of the note on a comment to the recent TalkCrunch podcast (which featured executives from four different RSS-related companies, including myself for NewsGator)…and given that the comment was made in public, I thought I would respond publicly as well.  Here’s the comment in its entirety:

John Pywtorak
April 5th, 2006 at 11:24 am

“Greg Reinacker, Founder and CTO, NewsGator” sounded like a Microsoft fanboy.

To suggest hat IE7 with RSS will be revolutionary and change the web is marketing speak and completely wrong. What about Firefox and other RSS readers? What about iTunes? I think it will have a longer and greater mpact than IE7.

From his discussion I can only come to the conclusion that your service is IE specific and that is the browser you will provide biased support for. I thought of using your service, but now I will not.

This is the first time I’m aware I’ve been called a fanboy. :-)  Here is my response:


Sorry you feel that way.  Let me try to clarify what I was trying to say, and if you disagree, then we can agree to disagree.

I believe we’re in the middle (er, beginning) of a paradigm shift on the internet.  And that shift isn’t about RSS; it’s not about Atom.  It’s about subscribing to content.  Users will come to expect that when they visit a web page, there is a consistent way to subscribe to the content on that page.  If they can’t subscribe to some particular site’s content, they’ll consider it a bug.  They will likely visit their favorite search engines less often – and they will “cruise” less – because the content they care about is being delivered to them.

Microsoft is going to ship IE7 soon, and Windows Vista (including IE7) sometime after that.  Now here’s the thing.  I don’t think IE7 is the best experience for reading this content the user has subscribed to.  But – and this is a big but – it’s going to be the first exposure to RSS and subscriptions that millions of people see.

Tidbit – Microsoft said at one point they plan to ship 475 million units of Vista in the first 24 months.  That’s a lot.  If I add up the total number of people in the world that have ever heard of RSS, I bet it’s a lot less than 475 million.

Anyway, back to my point.  People aren’t going to look for subscribe buttons on a site any more; they’re going to look for “subscribe” buttons in the browser or client they’re using.  That browser might be Firefox, it might be Safari, it might be IE7.  But out of those three, IE is probably going to have the most market share.  That’s not fanboy talk – that’s real life.

So back to NewsGator.  We’ve announced that we will have synchronization support for the RSS platform that’s contained in IE7 and Vista – I demonstrated it personally on stage at MIX06.  This means people can use the cool auto-discovery and subscribe tools in the browser, and they can use as much or as little of the IE7 reading experience as they wish.  We’ll synchronize all of that information to either NewsGator Online, or their internal NewsGator Enterprise Server installation.  Once there, they can use a _different_ Vista/IE7 machine to read it, or use their mobile device, or use a rich desktop client like FeedDemon or NetNewsWire, or use a web client from a shared computer, or…you get the point.  We take the RSS experience and extend it off of the user’s single machine, while at the same time leveraging the strengths of IE7.

Does this mean we only support IE?  Does this mean we don’t love Firefox, Safari, and other browsers?  No!  Our system supports whatever browser you want to use.  Where possible, we integrate with the subscription and auto-discovery mechanisms in all of these browsers to varying degrees.  We’re not “biased” in any way – other than we devote resources to the platforms that our customers ask for.

So anyway, John, and everyone else reading this – I’m happy to continue this discussion with you if you’d like.  Just leave a comment below, write on your own blog, or you can even call me – 303-552-3900 – and we can chat.

18 thoughts on “NewsGator, IE7, Microsoft, and my first ‘fanboy’ accusation

  1. John Pywtorak

    Thanks for the polite and quick response. Also, thanks for the offer to chat, although I think that may not be needed. Maybe the “fanboy” comment was a little strong, but it is not uncommon to run into providers that think IE is the only browser, and design to it. I am glad to hear NewsGator does not do this and I stand corrected in my assumption.

    I will however politely disagree with you on the impact that IE7 will have. Yes, those numbers are large, but I don’t think market share in this case is enough. There is some level of technical prowess needed which the masses will not have, thus, they more than likely will not use those features of IE7 ever; However, early adopters will pick the best tools and then market them by word of mouth. My family for example will use what I suggest and you can bet it won’t be IE7. I think the web based applications stand the greatest chance to have impact and market share. This includes your service, which I will give a second look.

    Thanks for your time and the willingness to discuss this.

  2. Steve Richards


    I just heard indirectly that Microsoft are not supporting authenticated feeds (see below):

    “IE7 (and the Windows RSS Platform) won’t support authenticated feeds. We

    know that this is something that sites want to do, and we will support

    it in a future release”

    This is very worrying in an enterprise context. As you plan to integrate into the Windows platform does this mean that we will loose support for authenticated feeds! Also it seems that FeedDemon 2 does not support authentication, another worrying trend, or am I missing something?

    Hopefully you can shed some light on this!

  3. Charles Billow


    I can only speak as a user, not a technocrat in the know. However:

    I do find myself ( as do many of those users that I work with, know, and for whom have occasion to provide with support) that a homogeneous experience, whether on a standalone PC or the web, is highly preferable. Not only does the learning curve shrink proportionately, but (and because of this) the user comfort level increases dramatically.

    So do I think (or hope) that all web sites will offer the same type on content access or availability? No, unfortunately.

    But do I think many will? Most certainly, just as *many* software developers have integrated color, look, and feel selections in their software that are most often called “Office 11” or “Office-like” or some such.

    Just as standards became the norm in most other fields and industries, a recognizable and easy-to-adjust-to environment is something that will add to customer and user satisfaction, hence increase sales, and therefore, is most probably a given in the upcoming stages.



  4. Remote Support Software

    I believe Microsoft is a big enough gorilla to move everyone to treat titles as plain text. One of the fundamental reasons this will become the “standard” is because it is correct to do so. Although it been done before, it would be harder to move everyone to do something incorrect even if the gorilla is a big one. Additionally, since IE 7.0 will have native support for RSS and have agregation features users will become acustomed to this as more and more come aboard the RSS wagon. Millions of computer desktop will be shipped with ie already present creating an additional force behind pushing the standard.


    PC Remote Control Over the Internet -:- Desktop Remote Support Software

  5. Firefox fan

    I agree that content subscriptions could become a major part of websites, however many consumers still don’t “get” all the technology behind it. IE7 and vista _could_ make things improve… we’ll see. In the mean time I’m still usng firefox.


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