Feb 282009

The Mac OS X Web browser OmniWeb is now available for free along with three other applications from the Omni Group following a decision based on the obvious point that “we don’t have unlimited engineering resources”. OmniWeb’s combination of features and efficiency were not enough to win it enough friends in an age in which browsers that are not free are dismissed out of hand (to the extent that even the CEO of the Omni Group declared “every other browser is free”, overlooking the long-running iCab).

OmniWeb provides features only otherwise available by loading up Firefox with extensions that are generally far less elegant and reliable, but the rate of development of OmniWeb had slowed down to the extent that some bugs and other aspects needing attention (such as an “ad-blocking” system that expected the user to enter regular expressions!) had been on the “to do” list for over a year. It therefore comes as more of a disappointment than a shock that development has probably ceased – despite the fact that (in response to a bug report sent a fortnight ago), Omni Group developers had alluded to a forthcoming V. 6, which now of course seems unlikely to appear.

If you are tempted to try OmniWeb despite its uncertain future, you may well like what you find. Try to politely ignore the question “You’re a Mac fan, right?” and see the feature list. Otherwise, try
Camino, Firefox, Flock, iCab, Opera, Safari… The list of rival browsers for the Mac is, it must be admitted, quite long.

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