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NewsGator, X1 Push RSS-Search Connection

By Ron Miller

News aggregation vendor NewsGator Technologies has inked a deal with Microsoft Outlook search vendor X1 to speed up access to aggregated information stored in the popular e-mail application.

The partnership takes advantage of NewsGator's ability to aggregate RSS feeds in Outlook and provides users with a way to locate any entry in Outlook using X1's heralded search technology.

Under the terms of the partnership, when customers purchase the X1 product, they receive a copy of NewsGator at no extra charge. Existing NewsGator customers receive a 30 percent discount on X1.

NewsGator president Greg Reinacker said the deal was about finding ways to help customers locate the information they need faster.

"This is about bringing more capabilities to our users - the ability to find something in a couple of seconds rather than a couple of minutes with a normal Outlook search. This really changes the way you look for information in Outlook," Reinacker said.

Robert Scoble, technology evangelist at Microsoft , thinks the two products make a powerful combination and also provide a taste of the functionality that will be available in the next release of Windows, code-named Longhorn.

"NewsGator is the best RSS aggregator out there, especially if you use Outlook on a daily basis. Likewise, if you use Outlook, X1 is the fastest and most powerful method of finding and using all of your various data -- a little bit of Longhorn for you before it ships," Scoble said.

Alexander Williams, president at DecisionCast, a company that produces Webcasts on RSS technology sees this partnership as part of a trend where news aggregators and search engines are coming together.

"NewsGator is really moving to the top as the most recognized news aggregator out there in the market, and with that position, especially with integration into Outlook, it just makes sense for them to move into search space, and it seems there is an interesting intersection between aggregators and search functionality," Williams told internetnews.com.

The NewsGator/X1 deal comes on the heels of another major release earlier this month when NewsGator released a new version that provides RSS feeds on televisions connected to a network powered by Microsoft Media Center Edition 2004. The flurry of activity begs the question whether NewsGator is positioning itself to be purchased by Microsoft.

Greg Reinacker says he certainly considers Microsoft a partner, but would not comment beyond that.

DecisionCast's Williams said a possible NewsGator/Microsoft deal was the subject of much speculation in the content aggregation and syndication space.

"I think it's mostly people speculating more than anything else. Microsoft has its own plans for RSS, which will be part of Longhorn. So I guess we will just see. I've heard people who are using this in the enterprise say, 'I just wish Microsoft would buy these guys because it would make it a lot easier'," Williams said.

Regardless, Williams thinks NewsGator is on the right track. "I think NewsGator has shown that they are quite forward looking and have a done good job of figuring it out and seeing that the fastest path to adoption is through Outlook because that is the application that people use the most and they are trying to maximize as best they can," Williams said.

News aggregators take advantage of RSS, an XML specification for content syndication, to deliver news and information from Web sites and blogs that offer an RSS feed.

NewsGator differentiated itself from the rest of the market with its initial release by being the only news aggregator to run in Microsoft Outlook. An updated version expanded access to POP3 mail clients, the Web and wireless devices.

NewsGator 2.0 also introduced NewsGator Online Services, which provides paid access to exclusive full text versions of online content and the ability to set up custom searches across a variety of search resources such as Feedster and Technorati.

X1 Search finds and displays the content of any email, file, attachment, or contact as fast as you can type. With each new keystroke, X1 builds and refines a list of results in real time, highlighting search terms.