NewsGator drops all charges, releases RSS clients for free

The maker of some of the most popular RSS and Atom tools for both Windows and Mac stunned everyone yesterday by declaring all of its consumer-grade software to be available free-of-charge.

The entire suite of RSS reader client products produced by NewsGator has been made free of charge, in a stunning though perhaps brilliant move by the company to draw attention to its enterprise-class RSS servers, which constitute the bulk of the company's revenue.

The company already produced NewsGator Online, a free Web-based RSS reader tied to a subscription-based server. With this move, however, its FeedDemon stand-alone software also becomes free, as well as its NewsGator Inbox add-on for Microsoft Outlook.

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In a statement yesterday, NewsGator CTO Greg Reinacker spelled out his company's strategy: Build up a bigger base of users by giving them the clients, then make the case that an enterprise-class server is necessary for publishers and corporations to address those clients. You could say there's a precedent for such a plan.

"In general, we found that the more people that used our system, the more relevant we could make the product for each user," Reinacker said. "By making it easier for knowledge workers to use our clients we dramatically increase the size of our user community. Enterprises that then deploy our server can take advantage of the synchronization and increased relevance for every user supported by the system."

Mac users are being invited to upgrade to NetNewsWire, the latest version of its OS X-based RSS reader, which NewsGator acquired in October 2005.

Independent blogs noted the celebration with some mixed emotion yesterday, noting that some users as of just last week paid as much as $30 for a product that's now $0. And recent subscribers to the NewsGator Online service will find they no longer have to re-up when their paid subscription elapses.

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