Microsoft makes synchronization simple

November 22nd, 2005 by jeremychone
rss + opml + sync = SSE

Ray Ozzie has just introduced a protocol-extension for synchronization called ”SSE” for “Simple Sharing Extension”. He describes SSE as "the RSS of synchronization". This is a great step forward for the Internet for the following reasons:

  • SSE adds an overdue functionality to the Internet: Synchronization.
  • SSE is just an extension to open protocols (RSS & OPML) and not another XML protocol.
  • SSE is designed to be as SIMPLE as its "host" protocols (RSS & OPML).
  • Microsoft seems to be fully committed to promoting and supporting this new protocol (probably thanks to Ray Ozzie). Proof of concept seems to be up and running at Microsoft.
  • The technology is available under an open licensing agreement (Attribution-ShareAlike from Creative Commons and is "patent friendly".
    From Microsoft SSE Specification: "As to software implementations, Microsoft is not aware of any patent claims it owns or controls that would be necessarily infringed by a software implementation that conforms to the specification’s extensions. If Microsoft later becomes aware of any such necessary patent claims, Microsoft also agrees to offer a royalty-free patent license …"

This protocol-extension is a great addition to RSS and OPML. The distributed nature of the Internet architecture requires such a multi-directional synchronization mechanism. Unfortunately, it has been a great challenge to find the right balance between simplicity and completeness for such protocols. Ray Ozzie’s expertise (with Notes & Groove) and dedication create a high level of user confidence in this new proposal.

As Ozzie mentioned, while there are plenty of synchronization protocols available (inside and outside of Microsoft), they have not been utilized as much as they should have been. Their complexity might have been a primary reason. For example, SyncML, while a very successful protocol, has seen some challenges to its objective of growing beyond the PIM space.

So far, the buzz from this proposal has been pretty positive. Dave Winer gave some good background information on his blog on November 21st. Mike Arrington from TechCrunch sees some new business opportunities for product development. Another good explanation of the technology can be found at

Again, this shows Microsoft’s determination to catch this new Internet wave. It is also enlightening to see how the Internet evolution seems to cause "corporate technologists" to realize that simplicity often overcomes completeness. Microformats vs OWL/RDF, PHP vs .Net/J2EE are other examples of this inevitable Internet simplification phenomenon. It will also be interesting to see how “SSE” will play with other standards such as SyncML, CalDav, and other XML protocols.

Anyway, for now, here are couple of things I would love to see come out of this technology:

  • Synchronize my bookmarks with Mozilla Firefox (2 Way synchronization)
  • Synchronize  Flickr sets with phpGallery albums.
  • Provide access to "distributed NotePad" ("NetPad") which will keep my personal notes in sync across devices, desktops and online services.
  • And obviously, allow me to share my "family calendar" with my wife. However, I will need to buy her one of these new digital paper notebooks.

3 Responses to “Microsoft makes synchronization simple”

  1. Bits and Buzz » Web 0.x to Web 2.0 Simplified Says:

    [...] « Microsoft makes synchronization simple [...]

  2. Library clips Says:

    SSE possibilities

    Trying to get my head around the SSE possibilities, I posted some last time from what I understand of it.
    The post Microsoft SSE and its Implications for Web 2.0 seems to know what it is talking about…although I don’t follow it very well….

  3. Raynor7 Says:

    Hmmm, ive never seen anything with SSE, but nowadays more people use RSS.