NetNewsWire 3.1 is the latest release of the long-developed news aggregator of RSS and Atom feeds - and it's now free. NewsGator, which acquired Seattle developer Brent Simmons's NetNewsWire software in 2005 and hired Simmons, announced updates for its major newsreading applications; their applications are all available at no cost. Previously, NetNewsWire was available in a fully featured paid Pro version and a free Lite version.
NewsGator's applications include FeedDemon 2.6, NetNewsWire 3.1, Inbox 3.0 (in beta), and NewsGator Go! for Windows Mobile 2.0, as well as Web-site based readers aimed at generic mobile devices and one customized for the iPhone. NewsGator integrates newsreading across programs and services by letting users create accounts that can be used to synchronize feeds and track which items have been read.
NewsGator founder and CTO Greg Reinacker wrote on his blog that the company is focusing on saturating the market with its clients to provide a better environment for its corporate products, which include NewsGator Enterprise Server. The server aggregates content from the outside world and combines it with internal communications for employees. A single source for the server software and no per-seat licensing fee for every desktop and mobile operating system and device could be a powerful tool to let NewsGator challenge bigger competitors that lack good software for normal users.
The latest release of NetNewsWire, by the way, includes a small list of useful new features, including a refresh of the user interface, better performance, and an HTML Archive option that saves news items in a standard Web format. The performance improvements were noticeable: I quit version 3.0, installed and launched 3.1, and witnessed a dramatic improvement in retrieving new items and other actions.
I should also note that Simmons added a feature late in the 3.1 beta that I've been requesting quietly for years: an unsubscribe-from-feed option available from the contextual menu for any news item. Because I subscribe to so many news feeds, and feeds tend to go stale, become overwhelming, or simply start to irritate me, it's great to have a click-and-select method of saying buh-bye to a news feed. Previously, you had to select an option to reveal the feed in the subscription list, select it, and choose Unsubscribe.
With NetNewsWire 3.1, generally considered to be one of the most capable RSS newsreaders, now available for free, the bar has been raised for all other RSS newsreaders (including Safari). As Rich Siegel told TidBITS when Bare Bones released the capable text editor TextWrangler for free, "You must now be this tall to play."