Part 2: Discover and Subscribe to Feeds

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.


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.


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 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,, 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

Comments (38)

  1. Blair says:

    On the feed list, I’m curious as to whether or not you’ve considered using the site’s "favicon" (when available) in place of the orange feed icon, as many dedicated feed reading applications do (or, at least, NetNewsWire does)?

  2. Gary Schroeder says:

    I notice having a couple of web pages open and one has a RSS feed (resulting in a red icon) and the other does not, when viewing the page without the RSS feed, the icon stays red which is confusing.

  3. Orlando says:

    IE7 RSS button worked fine but IE7 doesn’t handle correctly with extend characters. This happens too when browsing RSS but only in the titles, in the description it’s OK. Others RSS readers can read both RSS of the site correctly.

    Maybe it’s possible, but I couldn’t, when browsing a RSS, show only the titles, letting description hidden. It would be interesting a plus sign on each title to show or hide the description. Some RSS have hundreds of items by day and it would be a boredom to find out interested titles between descriptions.

  4. Adam says:

    Every single time I try to subscribe to a feed I get an error message.

    Internet Explorer cannot display this feed

    An unknown error has occurred.

    Please try again later.

    What’s going on with this?

  5. Raj says:

    Why can’t you instantly subscribe to an rss feed without having to first preview it first?

  6. rss says:

    hey blair – the fav icon is displayed on the tab and in the addressbar, but it is not stored in the feedlist for this release.

  7. rss says:

    hey Gary – the Feed Discovery Button is contextual and only displays when the current tab has a feed associated to it.

    there is a known issue that while loading a page, the button is enabled when it should be disabled.

  8. rss says:

    hi adam – could you add the URL to the feed to this wiki:

    we are trying our best to address these issues.

  9. Rohit Malik says:

    I tried importing feeds into IE7 Beta2 from OPML which i exported using feed reader application but all feeds didn’t show up.

    What could be the reason?

    And also why don’t it show the number of new items inside a feed like feedreader does.

    Cheers, Rohit

  10. mike says:

    Perhaps this is already here somewhere, but:

    >A website can advertise that it has one or more feeds available.

    Can you point us to a description of the technical details of how a website advertises its feed?


  11. Bob G says:

    Like Rohit, my OPML does not import … no error actually but no feeds are imported. The OPML was created by Egress on my pocket PC.

    Is this feature supposed to be working yet? Any suggestions?


  12. Matt Ellis says:

    I think feed discovery is still too subtle – my mom + dad will never see that icon. A balloon tip for the first couple of found feeds could help.

  13. Bob says:

    Need to have some popup notification when feeds are updated. Having to "go look" is clunky, especially if you’re planning on using RSS feeds for enterprise business purposes.

  14. Ahmed Gamal says:

    I think if u can add a feature to the RSS feeds so I can that there is a new feeds when just as they r found or downloaded from the website as in "Google Desktop Search"

  15. Tony Perrie says:

    Why don’t you overlay a mini-feed icon over a site’s favicon in the feed list?

  16. HP Deskjet says:

    On several feeds I’m tring to subscribe to I’m also getting the error message:

    Internet Explorer cannot display this feed

    An unknown error has occurred.

    Please try again later.

    An example of this is this feed:

    Opera 8.5 manges to load the feed and update it without a problem, as does Sage 1.3.6 in Firefox 1.0.7.  I cant work out if the problem is with the feed itself or with IE7.

  17. Alex says:

    The results of never turn off auto-discovery.

    1) I cannot work with my banks website anymore: "Unknown Feed Format" error all the way — they supply browser with XML+XSLT to render. Maybe it’s not a good idea on their side, but they did it, and now I have to download FireFox just to be able to login there!

    2) WHY Feeds Auto-Discovery is available for all applications that host IE? This is WRONG, because only iexplore.exe has a clue on what to do with found feeds.

    3) I’m a software developer and would like to see XML as is was formatted in IE6. Now, thanks to the darn auto-discovery, I cannot do this anymore.

    IETeam, please, add an OPTION for auto-discovery!

    Please let me know if you need more details on the bank’s site problems.

    Thank you.

  18. rss says:

    Orlando –

    Could you provide me the feed URL with the extended characters so that we can investigate what the issue is?

    thanks – Jane Kim [MSFT]

  19. rss says:

    Rohit Malik –

    What was the reader that you exported the OPML file from?  We are testing against the major feed readers, and I want to make sure that we capture any issues around this.

    Thanks! – Jane Kim [MSFT]

  20. rss says:

    mike –

    to understand how the Feed Discovery Button works, please read:

    – Jane Kim [MSFT]

  21. Orlando says:

    Jane Kim [MSFT] –

    > Could you provide me the feed URL with the extended…

    Please go:

    I experienced other problem with IE7 and XML files. XSL referenced by a XML in the same folder isn’t found by IE7. For example, I can’t read my MSN history XMLs thru IE7. I discovered that this happens when the XML and XSL folder path has spaces. As the folder is in my network and to continue using IE7 the workaround is map the History folder temporally.

  22. Orlando says:

    Jane Kim –

    > Could you provide me the feed URL…

    Please go:

    I experienced other problem with IE7 and XLM files. XSL referenced by a XML in the same folder isn’t found by IE7. For example, I can’t read my MSN history XMLs thru IE7. I discovered that this happens when the XML and XSL folder path has spaces. As the folder is in a my network and to continue using IE7 the workaround is map the folder temporarily.

  23. Bob says:

    Having the number of unread feeds is nice.  Example:  CNN(13)

    Also, Being able to change the URL in Properties would be better than having to re-discover the feed on the web page if you know the new URL.


  24. Please use favicon for feed icon, thanks! 🙂

  25. Stecki says:

    Please do not only show favicons for feeds but also find a way to show the actual status of the feed (updating, last update failed, last update ok and no new items, last update ok and new items), for example by putting a red x over the icon if the last update failed etc.

  26. Stecki says:

    The possibility not only to refresh individual feeds but also a folder or alle feeds should be supplied.

    And it would be great if the number of unread items of a feed/feed-folder would be display in paranthesis next to the feed-title.

  27. Stecki says:

    It would be a great help, if the error messages would be a little bit more verbose.

    I am trying to add feeds and sometimes run into "there was an error discovering the feed" without any clue, what exactly went wrong.

    This is disturbing, because the feeds I am trying to add are feeds of high-profile sites (in top ten news sites here in Germany, for example and the feeds work correct in every other aggregator that I tried…

  28. Ignacio Araya says:

    I’ve got some problems with the Feeds function on my Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview (Build 5296 in fact). I can suscribe any RSS feed I want, but every time I want to access them on the Feeds menu (on the Star – Feeds) my Internet Explorer collapses; also, if I want to delete some of these sites on that menu, it doesn’t delete it. When I see the Feeds folder on my drive (Configuración Local – Datos de Programa, on my Spanish WinXP) every ‘.feed-ms’ file is 0Kb (except FeedsStore.feedsdb-ms, which is 4Kb always).

    (sorry for my English and forgive me if this comment is wrong here)

  29. Jon Harris says:

    IE7 Won’t read the feed on our site, even though it validates ok.

    url is:

    Validation result at:

  30. Jon Harris says:

    Fixed it

    IE7 didn’t like DTD reference (or encoding?)

    Changed from:

    <?xml version="1.0"?>

    <!DOCTYPE rss PUBLIC "-//Netscape Communications//DTD RSS 0.91//EN" ""&gt;


    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1" ?>

    <?xml-stylesheet title="XSL_formatting" type="text/xsl" href="/shared/bsp/xsl/rss/nolsol.xsl"?>

    and it now works.

  31. FrankBergmann says:

    this is all nice and good … still if after a feed is discovered and a user clicks on it he sees just XML for valid feeds he will still use other browsers.

    Take just the example of sourceforge … they provide valid feeds with an XM comment at the beginning … while firefox has no problems reading them IE7 (preview) can’t …

    have a look:

  32. Nigel Pond says:

    I get the "Internet Explorer cannot display this feed" error every time I try to subscribe to a feed in IE7 beta 2. Is this a known bug/issue??

  33. When reading for the first time an RSS 1.0 feed, IE7 shows correctly all the items (entries) in the feed. But after subscribing only those with different content in the <link> element are stored.

    IE7 shouldn’t use the content of the <link> element to index the feed entries because it doesn’t have to be unique. Instead, it should use the rdf:about attribute in the <link> element:

    This one "must be unique with respect to any other rdf:about attributes in the RSS document and is a URI which identifies the item."

  34. Correction to my previous post:

    Where it says:

    "Instead, it should use the rdf:about attribute in the <link> element"

    it should say:

    "Instead, it should use the rdf:about attribute in the <item> element"

    Where it says:

    "The rdf:about attribute in the <link> element"

    it should say:

    "The rdf:about attribute in the <item> element"


  35. I have read this:

    And it clearly states that the <link> must be in the <head>.  However, this is not always simple to accomplish.  Couldn’t IE7 check the entire HTML doc for these tags, like some other browsers do?

  36. karl says:


    Sorry if this has been disscussed- but how do you export feeds to a different computer (using IE 7)?


  37. Jun Lin says:

    "Internet Explorer cannot display this feed because it uses an unsupported communication protocol."

    I had that error too, but it’s gone when I disabled the "mobile code" blocking for the problem site in my firewall program.

    I’m using ZoneAlarm Security Suite btw.

    Hope this piece of info is useful for someone.

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