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July 07, 2005

Apple's standard

[7 July 2005] Microsoft recently suggested an extension to an important emerging standard, RSS. They used a grass roots industry conference to discuss their extension before shipping any product which used it and quickly received comprehensive, constructive feedback from a range of smart people. To Microsoft's credit, they have come to understand that by opening themselves up to (sometimes painful) scrutiny, they end up creating better products.

In contrast, Apple's recent Podcasting extension to the same RSS standard was shipped in the latest version of iTunes without consultation. And it looks like a rush job,  getting a lot of criticism from those who care about these things.

Standards in software are important. I want my email to be read by anyone without worrying what software or hardware they have. Standards used to be created either because acompany became dominant in a particular market (for example Microsoft Word) or were derived by a standards body (as in telecommunications). By contrast, standards on the Internet are more likely to evolve through community consultation. Someone suggests a standard or an extension to one and invites comments. While the process of getting concensus may sometimes be painful, it also makes for better, universal standards. And respect for those who engage in the process.

Posted by Marius at July 7, 2005 06:08 PM

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