The SharpReader RSS reader is very nice and is very easy to use. It is set up very much like Outlook / Outlook Express and has the standard three pane interface: feed names on the left, item list at the top right, and the item content at the bottom right. The only concern is that I have to open Outlook Express to read my mail and newsgroups, and then SharpReader to open my new items. Why should I have to use two programs for this. Shouldn’t I be able to use one to do all three things?
Well, I found there is one solution currently available, and it is freeware open source as well. It is called nntp//rss and will enable someone to use their existing nntp newsgroup reader (in my case Outlook Express) to read and work with RSS channels. I had to download the whole Java Runtime Environment and install it (not a task for those with weak hearts) and then set up nntp//rss. It works nicely in Outlook Express, but I have 2 small complaints of it relative to SharpReader. The most important is that it is much less convenient for adding new feeds. With SharpReader, you can simply enter the url, or even drag and drop feeds to it. But feeds have to be manually added to a web-based administrative interface for nntp//rss that is outside the newsreader - very inconvenient. The other thing is that with nntprss, the image of the newsgroup doesn’t show. Starting up, SharpReader is fairly slow. Nntp//rss requires the Java Runtime environment to be going. On Windows 98, this can be setup as a startup program, but I really don’t want extra processes running in the background when they’re not needed.
For now, I think I’ll stick with SharpReader. I’m sure either Outlook Express will add its own RSS reader in the future, or maybe a 3rd party addin will be developed that might tweak away the inconveniences I mention.