You know, despite the infamous "Browser Wars" between Netscape and Internet Explorer, the Browser landscape is quite abundant. That is somewhat of a suprise to me as I expected it to become a two pony race and stay that way. Unfortunately I do not have a Mac that can run Apple's Safari some I'm a not a good source of information on that product. I'm pleased though to see this schism developing though. The "Free" Browsers versus the "Pay" Browsers. I've heard many a computer user exclaim "I would never pay for a browser" but I'm beginning to wonder if that is truly the case. I tend to think that people would pay for a Browser as long as it handled the basics well and added valuable features that are non-existant or poorly done in the free offerings.
For instance I recently became a little annoyed with the shortcomings of the nice Firefox Browser. I found it to be fast but a little rough around the edges. I'm now trying Opera which is available on many platforms. Opera and Omniweb are two commerical Browsers. Opera runs for free with banner ads. Omniweb is available for a limited trial.
Just what can these Browsers do that would make the wallets open and the cash register sing? Well my initial thoughts on Opera lead me to believe that this version 7.5 isn't worth the $29.95 asking price but by version 8 it may just reach that desirable goal. I've grown particularly fond of the stability of Opera. Compared to Firefox it just seems more fluid when switching tabs while another tab is loading as if each tab was threaded better. The Panel contains icons for Mail, Notes, Transfers, History, Links and others down the left side. These auto update depending on the site you have front facing. The "Links" icon is nice as it will give you a simple list of all the links on a given page. The Notes can be handy as well. You can highlight text on any webpage and right click(PC) and save automatically to a note or take text from any note and insert into the page. Not too groundbreaking but it could come in handy at times. The integrated Mail client doesn't suck and even offers easy RSS setup/subscription. I prefer its search facility from the Panel. In stead of just searching Google you are presented with a search form and then a collection of bars that will search various sites. Want to search Google and then Amazon and then 6 other sites? Just click the appropriate site icon bar and your search commences.
I haven't used Omniweb but I believe it could become my standard Browser on my next Mac purchase if they continue to add features. Omniweb's Workspaces feature looks very nice as well as Site Preferences and Saved Browser Sessions. Not too shabby. Although it's not to everyones liking but it would be interesting to see Omniweb perhaps offer an advanced UI option where it would seamlessles integrate with Addressbook, Mail and perhaps even iPhoto for saving web photos. I think the Browser is simply moving on to another phase and I look forward to seeing how the commerical Browsers compete against the free Browsers.