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MyMSN introduces RSS aggregation

Microsoft's MSN division is jumping into the RSS aggregator space this week, adding blog subscriptions to its MyMSN service. Not only that, but MSN is building a blog search engine into MyMSN, apparently becoming the first major portal to do so.

The blog subscription feature will begin to appear as an option sometime tomorrow or the next day. Users of MyMSN, a service that allows people to build custom news pages, will find it when they go to the "Add Content'' section of their site. They'll be able to use a search box to find Web sites that have RSS feeds and subscribe to them with the click of the button. They'll also be able to subscribe to some non-blog content as well, such as the BBC News.

MSN product manager Brooke Richardson said the addition of RSS aggregation made sense, given the December launch of MSN Spaces, Microsoft's free blog-creation service. As with many blog services, MSN Spaces blogs generate RSS feeds. The next logical step, she said, was to offer a way for people to subscribe to those and other feeds.

"Before this, we didn't have a way for people to consume the feeds that we were putting out there,'' she said.

If this sounds familiar, it's because Yahoo added blog aggregation to its similar MyYahoo service last year, with much fanfare. MSN is taking a lower-key approach; they're not even sending out news releases, we're told.

MSN's RSS aggregation is being powered by San Francisco's Moreover Technologies, the same company that built MSN's NewsBot. Moreover CEO Jim Pitkow said he's especially pleased with the blog search tool that will be added to MyMSN. It will allow keyword searches across the blogging world and other frequently updated content. Technorati, Feedster and several other companies already offer this. But, Pitkow says, "This is the first major portal to do blog content search.''

A couple of other notes:

- Richardson said MSN Spaces now has 1.5 million blogs. We wondered how many of those were active users versus looky-loos. Richardson said it was too early to tell, "but we've got good early indications that a nice portion of people are using it.''

- When we first wrote about RSS more than two years ago, we were convinced the acronym would never stick with the general public, particularly since there was widespread disagreement back then over what RSS even stood for. Instead, it's becoming more and more part of the mainstream tech vernacular. "We still don't think it's the most user-friendly terminology, but folks are starting to use it,'' Richardson said.



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