I first heard about this from Richard MacManus’ Read/Write Web and only now am getting a chance to play around with it. The server-based reader is part of Microsoft’s experimental sandbox area and there are two versions posted. One is a web-based RSS reader and the other is an online bookmarks list. Unless I’m missing something, there’s nothing to earth shattering here. The reader doesn’t let you search or profile against any of the feeds and the bookmarks, once you upload them (via an ActiveX control), are there to stay.
I’m sure all this stuff will get worked out so when you try things like overwriting your bookmarks by uploading another version the browser won’t crash. It’s still the sandbox. What is more interesting is that this is the clearest indication yet that Microsoft views RSS as an integral part of any portal. It’s right there next to the Search tab so it’s only a matter of time before they extend Search to RSS feeds. Likewise with the bookmarks, the next logical step is to extend what’s on the page out to others in the MSN network as is done in de.licio.us.
I smile when I see that it’s called these efforts two flavors of a Start Page. I have a bit of a history with this moniker as I spent many long hours debating what to call a revolutionary new section of the Factiva.com product and we ended up calling it the very same thing, the Start Page.