Today I created a private blog site — that is, Internet-accessible but SSL-and-password-protected — and realized that there was no easy way for most people to subscribe to it. Even if the popular cloud-based readers like Bloglines and Google Reader supported authenticated feeds, I wouldn’t want to let them use my credentials to impersonate me.

What about the Microsoft RSS Platform? I discovered to my surprise that it won’t read authenticated feeds either. I’m way late to the party on this one. Scott Hanselman sounded the alarm last September. (He also speculated usefully about a CardSpace-strengthened approach to secure RSS.)

Way back in February, Dare Obasanjo had weighed in on why authenticated feeds would matter, and in March Sean Lyndersay explained on Charlie Wood’s blog why the feature didn’t make the cut.

My own case helps bolster Sean’s point that password-protected feeds are rare birds. Despite all the blog publishing and feedreading I’ve done over the years, today was the first time I’ve created, and then turned around and subscribed to, an authenticated feed.

Still, there are all kinds of messages that I’d rather receive from banks and credit card companies by way of RSS pull (under my control) rather than by way of email push (under their control). But if Windows itself doesn’t yet read authenticated feeds, it’s hard for those companies to justify producing such feeds. Chicken and egg.

So how did I finally subscribe to it? With Dare Obasanjo’s RSS Bandit, the first desktop-based reader I’ve touched in years.

Update: Thanks to this comment I have discovered that Outlook 2007 is one of the standalone RSS readers that can subscribe to authenticated feeds. I had originally thought otherwise but that was operator error on my part. It does work, provided that Outlook 2007 is set up to subscribe autonomously rather than to use the common feed store. Here’s a screencast that shows IE7 and Outlook 2007 interacting with the common feed store, as well as Outlook 2007 working autonomously.

Update 2: A followup question came up today. That screencast shows how to make Outlook 2007 use the common feed list. (See File->Import.) But how do you switch away from that choice in order to read authenticated feeds? ANSWER: Tools -> Options -> Other -> Advanced.