Review: Microsoft Max feed reader

I must be on some Microsoft review binge this week. Yesterday, Windows Live Writer, today Microsoft Max. The Microsoft Max application is promoted as photo viewing and sharing software, but the latest release of Max included an RSS feed reader.  This feature is what has caused some interest (read reviews from Niall Kennedy and TechCrunch). My review is strictly in reference to the feed reader aspect, so take that into consideration with my comments.

As a feed reader, you just won’t be using Max anytime soon. As opposed to the other recent Microsoft releases (Live Writer), Max is just not ready for prime time with respect to RSS feeds. This puppy is so big and bloated it may have set a record for the shortest amount of time an application resided on my laptop. I installed and removed Max within the span of 45 minutes. Max starts you off with a hefty 54 meg install of the next version of .NET. The pre-requisite for Max installation is Windows .NET Framework 3.0 RC1. This isn’t all that bad as I’m sure there will be more more applications requiring this soon. The same thing happened with .NET 2.0 when it rolled out. So Max did take a while to install, but the majority of this time was for the .NET framework. Unfortunately, this was the only part of the process that was slow. Max itself felt very sluggish when adding feeds and then trying to read them.

Microsoft Max was quite visually pleasing, beautiful even. Max applies a nice newspaper style format to all of the items in a feed and the display is stunning. The rest of the feed reading functionality is very basic though. All you can do is read summaries of the feeds in Max. There are no settings to change anything or set preferences.

I could not find a way of reading the feed content within the application itself. If you’re looking at a feed with full content in the RSS, it still only shows up as summaries in Max. When you click on the article content in the newspaper like view, it opens a new browser window. Not the result I was expecting and absolutely irritating for someone trying to read many feeds.

I’m sure the Max team will make improvements to the feed reading capabilities. The bigger question is why? What market is this serving? I’m really not sure I understand the need for a feed reader within a photo application.

Tom currently works in developer relations for IBM Watson. A serial entrepreneur, he's been the founder of numerous startups including Investify and StatsMix, a Techstars alumni company. Tom lives outside Boulder, Colorado and in his free time he's an avid rock climber, skier, and trail runner.

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