To get started with feed reading experience in IE7, you need to first find a feed and then subscribe to it. This post covers how to do just that.

Discover

We expect most users to encounter a feed through the Feed Discovery button located on the Command Bar.

Feed Discovery Button

A website can advertise that it has one or more feeds available. If a feed isn’t available, then the button is disabled. We had this functionality in Beta 1, but it’s gone through a makeover. First off, we’re using a new icon :). Second, the default action of the button goes to first discovered feed. If there are other multiple feeds discovered, press the drop down to see the menu of all of the discovered feeds. We noticed that many websites only have one feed so we wanted to optimize the experience for that case (1 less click!).

We’ve been asked why the button takes the user to the Feed Reading Page instead of directly subscribing to the feed. We think that in most cases, the user previews the feed to see if the content is appealing before subscribing to it. That said, we are still flirting with the idea of adding this for the power-users out there.

If you are a publisher, and you want to enable feed discovery when a user visits your website, read the publisher's guide for the details. If you have followed these intructions, but the button isn't lighting up, report your website here.

Subscribe

There are two modes to the Feed Reading page: preview and subscribed mode. In preview mode, you see the feed that is live on the website. This is a pretty static experience. By subscribing to the feed, IE7 automatically checks the website (even if IE7 isn’t running) to see if there are new updates on a scheduled basis – for instance, IE7 can check every 4 hours to see if there is new content available for the msnbc.com feed. If IE7 finds that there is new content, IE7 automatically downloads the new content, and it is available for your reading in the Feed Reading page.

All subscribed feeds are added to the feed list, located in the Favorites Center. It is in the upper left corner of the frame. Feeds that have new content available are bolded, and bolded folders contain a feed with new content. Notice that my “friends” folder isn’t bolded. I know not to check any of my friends’ blog because there’s nothing new to read since the last time I visited.

Have we gone crazy with the feed icon? Maybe. We threw in the feed icon in the feed list for kicks, and after using it for a while, we all started warming up to it.

If you are already an experienced feed reader, you can import your OPML file (a file format that can represent your feeds hierarchically) from Bloglines, FeedDemon, Live.com, etc. Just click on the “+” button next to the Favorites Center icon and select “Import and Export.” This takes you through a wizard to add feeds from your OPML file into IE7.

Once you successfully discover and subscribe to a feed, you are ready to start reading.

Part 3: Read and Manage

- Jane