It may be a minor victory, but any victory against Microsoft can seem pretty big for a small software company like Mozilla, the makers of the Firefox web browser.
On December 14th, an Internet Explorer team member announced in their blog that Microsoft will adopt the orange RSS icon that Firefox has popularized across the web. Orange is the official color of Firefox.
If you are unfamiliar with RSS (Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication), it is an information syndication technology used to send “feeds” to RSS readers and compatible applications.
According to market research firm Ipsos Insight, over 30% of web users have used RSS whether they realize it or not. According to a research document prepared for Yahoo! by Ipsos Insight, “the use of RSS in websites is becoming more common, but very few Internet users are actually aware of it… many Americans use RSS unknowingly via personalized start pages and browser-based experiences.”
RSS was first developed by Netscape programmer, Dan Libby, in 1999 as a way to customize the My Netscape portal hompages. AOL lost interest in RSS after purchasing Netscape in 2001. RSS then became an open-source project and was integrated into the Firefox browser and most blogging software.
“We all agreed that it’s in the user’s best interest to have one common icon to represent RSS and RSS-related features in a browser,” the Microsoft team wrote in their blog. Several months ago, the IE team blog said they would design an original Microsoft RSS icon.
If you haven’t switched from Internet Explorer yet, consider Firefox 1.5 your invitation to do so. Firefox has taken the web by storm and according to the Wikipedia Firefox page, received over “25 million downloads in the 99 days after the initial 1.0 release.”
Getting Microsoft to adopt a standard they didn’t invent is like a mouse moving a mountain. Congratulations to Mozilla and the Firefox development team.