NewsGator surrenders to Google

On Twitter, hypermax posts a request:

@edbott I’ll be glad if you could post your reaction to the news of Newsgator Online ending somewhere.

Yeah, that’s one I can’t answer in 140 characters.

Short version, from the NewsGator FAQ:

One of the most popular feature requests from FeedDemon and NetNewsWire users was synchronization with Google Reader– so we are delivering that today.

NewsGator Online will no longer be available for consumers as of August 31, 2009. If you would like to continue to take advantage of the power of RSS, we recommend FeedDemon (for Windows), NetNewsWire (for Macs and iPhones), and/or Google Reader (for online).

NewsGator Go! for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile [and] NewsGator Inbox will no longer be available for consumers as of August 31, 2009. We recommend Inbox users try FeedDemon or Google Reader.

I love FeedDemon (it’s one of my favorite Windows programs of all time). Nick Bradbury’s baby has been a part of NewsGator and has used NewsGator sync engine for as long as I can remember. NewsGator Online, however, was a well-meaning but messy online alternative that I can’t remember using in the past couple years. The Windows Mobile version was similarly flawed. I gave it a fair try and finally said “no mas!” When I want to read my RSS feeds on a phone, I use Google Reader, which in my case is always out of sync with NewsGator.

So selfishly, I’m glad Google has won. It’s the default online RSS reader, and I think they’ve done a fine job with it. I can still use FeedDemon and NetNewsWire on Windows PCs and Macs respectively.

The latest release candidate of FeedDemon 3 integrates with Google’s sync engine, and I transferred my settings over to Google a couple days ago. Only one feed out of 260+ failed to transfer properly, but it was flagged for me and I imported it manually. The reliability of the service doesn’t seem to have changed. I’m seeing slight indications of differences between the sync engines. For example, I see more items in some feeds now than I did before; I’m also noticing more posts where the Author is unknown.

In the bigger picture, I hate being beholden to Google for yet another service where they can watch what I do and who I watch. But I’m willing to trust them, just as I’m willing to trust Microsoft on many issues.

I’m interested in your feedback as well. And now I return to reading page proofs for Windows 7 Inside Out.

26 thoughts on “NewsGator surrenders to Google

  1. I used to prefer desktop apps rather than online-based apps. I used FeedDemon, from version 1 to 2, and I loved it… but then I got tired of it crashing. After Google Reader issued its first major update, I switched to it, and never went back.

  2. I agree with you 100 percent. If anything, this is a win-win for both companies. NewsGator has the best desktop client(s), Google has the best Web app, so why not link the two?

    I’ve been a happy FeedDemon user for a fairly long time, and at the same time, I use many of Google’s services. After NewsGator’s move, I simply added another one of those to my list, and rightly so.

    I do wonder if Google will ever feel the urge to buy them altogether. Combined with Google Reader and FeedBurner, that’d make a pretty strong team.

  3. I could never see the need for a desktop reader. The problems with the desktop reader are many:

    Only usable on one PC
    Must be online to keep updated with feeds
    Data backup

    With a desktop reader you simply cannot synchronize your feeds between PCs in a efficient manner. I use my laptop and desktop about the same amount of time, and I need access to feeds on both, in sync.

    Another issue with desktop readers is that you have to constantly be online for them to update. Lifehacker for instance posts around ~20 posts per day. This means that if I I’m not online with my newsreader AT least once per day, then next time I update, I will only get the last 20 items in the RSS feed and miss some news. GReader solves this by being online all the time.

    The last issue is data backup. Saving RSS feeds to my PC is just another thing I have to remember to backup or loose forever. I like the ability to search through stories I’ve read to find something I was interested in a few days ago. Managing a backup of this on a PC is a chore and again, GReader does this nicely and I trust in Google’s ability to backup.

  4. Ben, you’ve obviously never used FeedDemon. All of the objections you have are perfectly logical but don’t apply to FD, especially when paired with the Google sync engine. You can search your local store even offline. The sync engine takes care of synchronizing changes made by different copies. My desktop knows when I’ve marked something as read on my notebook or if I’ve added or deleted a feed (and vice versa).

    You don’t need to back up, either. If I install a new copy on a new machine (a process that takes about two minutes including the download) it restores my data, exactly as it was when I last left it.

    And because the sync engine is on at all times, it is able to keep my feeds updated even for sites like Lifehacker or my own comments feed that get high traffic but only show the 20 most recent posts in the feed.

    All your objections apply to a typical standalone program but not to FeedDemon.

  5. Other aggregators address those issues as well, but FeedDemon does the best job. Furthermore, if anything, a desktop reader is more versatile, because not constraining it to the browser means you get tray integration, system sounds, maybe better caching, andsoforth. I’m a lot more comfortable with FeedDemon sitting in my system tray 24/7 than with having a Firefox or Chrome window open all the time, even while browsers can be minimized to the tray as well.

  6. I’m going to give FeedDemon a try, just based on the bias expressed by everyone here. But as one who seems to have Firefox open most of the day, I default to Sage Reader as a sidebar in Firefox. I use Google Reader, but only when i have to. I do not like dealing with it and i can’t even say why. It just annoys me. When Firefox went to 3.5 it took over a week for Sage to get updated/upgraded and I came to realize how lost i felt without it and how much i hated having to rely on Google. I’ll try FeedDemon on your recommendations, but I think you people should also check out Sage. FWIW.

  7. p.s. For the ppc i like the reader in Mobipocket Reader (but yes it has to be synced thru the desktop reader which is a pain) and now SBSH is working on a potentially great phone reader GoNewsTouch (not there yet but looking good) which syncs with Google Reader feeds.

  8. This is a big loss for me, but only because i’m going to miss NewsGator Go! for Blackberry. (Maybe something like GoNewsTouch will work – I’ll have to check on that.) The browser interface for Google Reader is pretty bad on Blackberry’s horrible browser.

    What I’m really worried about long-term is about competition. With NewsGator out, Google now “owns” the market. Microsoft has nothing competitive and doesn’t see this as anything but a niche market. How much innovation can we now expect with a virtual monopoly?

  9. I’m hypermax. Thanks Ed for posting this. I actually don’t expect you to fulfiled this request (almost) personally. You are now officially my #1 tech blogger 🙂

    Well, seems like I’m minority here. I don’t want to use Google Reader. The GR itself is not to my liking, and I really hate the fact that Google will know exactly what I read. I feel very disappointed because if the situation is reverse, ie. GR is my favorite, I will still help people fighting to get Newsgator Online sync back. Having two options should not hurt anyone (except Newsgator, I admit).

    Still, I won’t use Google Reader. Unlike Ed, I don’t trust them enough. So I have to find an alternative in a month. Anyone have any suggestion? As Glenn already said, now it is almost monopoly. I know is pretty close, but they have no official client. The bigger problem is that it does not work with some of my feed as well. I do not really care about a desktop client anymore. Just want an online aggregator. Tiny Tiny RSS was my favorite before moving to Newsgator/FeedDemon, but the author’s server can only handle a limited number of users, and there is no free slot right now.

  10. I’ll second Hypernova.
    I don’t trust Google with my information. I don’t have any option with their search (Or may be I do, Bing anyone!) but with news they’d know too much about people. I can imagine they must have paid top bucks to Newsgator for this deal, good on them, but personally this is a big loss and as I’d not use Google reader. till something nice comes up getting news is gonna be painful.

    Feedmon is a super solution, it never crashed on me and I used it at least between 2 PCs and my iPhone and sometime their Web version which is not that bad.

    If anyone has a good suggestion for a Windows based RSS reader please shout.

    Ed, as this is my first comment on your blog, I want to thank you for your work over the years and I’ve been relying on you for good quality tech info.

  11. Ah, here come the tin foil hat comments. As if Google actually cares which feeds you personally read. The arrogance! 🙂

  12. ED, thanks for the information. If I understand correctly, say I’m gone with my PC offline for a week. When I come back and sync all my feeds, FB will return all the feeds for the previous week, or just the latest ~20 or so in the actual feed? This is why I’ve been only using online readers, because I sometimes go days without being on my PC (well, pretty much only during the summer when I’m camping) and being able to see a weeks worth of news in GReader is one of the main reasons I use it.

    Thanks! (And I’m not trying to turn this into a tech support forum, I promise!)

  13. Ben, the NewsGator sync engine retrieved feed contents at regular intervals for all subscribers, so you could catch up after a long trip. I think Google Reader works the same way but can’t be sure. It would be a good question to ask at the FeedDemon support forums.

  14. @Tim: He’s not saying that at all, he’s saying that he doesn’t trust Google. Not trusting someone with their data and thinking they will peruse it are two different things.

    Also, considering they read your email for advertising, it’s not a far stretch to think they’ll do the same with your feeds.

    PS: I personally don’t have a problem with that, since I use Gmail. I’m just noting that TIN-FOIL-HAT does not equal “I disagree with your statements.”

    PPS: Even if your feed doesn’t support syncing to an online service, you could always use Windows Live Sync or Live Mesh.

  15. This may reconcile me with desktop RSS feed readers. I think I’m going to give FeedDemon a try now years after switching to Google Reader (from another desktop reader).

  16. Ed,

    ” I hate being beholden to Google for yet another service where they can watch what I do and who I watch”

    Sorry, but I thought you realized that ALL NEWS FEED providers watch what you do. You’re usually not the niave, so what’s up with this statement?

  17. Narg,

    What do you mean by “all news feed providers”? If I use a standalone RSS reader, I hit every site’s RSS feed individually. Yes, NewsGator knows what I subscribe to and what I read, but they don’t have any other information about me.

    By contrast, because I have a Google account, Google has information on my search history, on my web site analytics, on what I read with Google News and who I corespond with via GMail, and so on. They have made it very clear that they are willing and able to cross-reference all this information to get a complete picture of my online personality that they can use to refine their advertising and other products.

    I really don’t think I’m being naive here.

  18. Not exactly. It’s a long story, but between some problems with my hosting company, book deadlines (one more week!), and demands at ZDNet, this blog has been getting less than its usual attention lately. And it is easier to post quick hits on Twitter than here.

    Expect a more consistent posting regimen here beginning in September.

  19. @MarkKB: Thanks for pointing that out.

    Only one thing that I don’t agree with most of people here is that you trust google. What Ed said in the comments is true, but he trust them, so no problem. I, on the other hand, don’t. So, now Newsgator drives me to a corner.

    Please let me be lazy (I’m tried from finding an alternative for FeedDemon/Newsgator, you know) and just copy svart: Ed, as this is my first comment on your blog, I want to thank you for your work over the years and I’ve been relying on you for good quality tech info.

  20. My problem is that my Google password also allows access to my email, Google Voice, Google Docs, etc. How does NetNewsWire protect my credentials? Are they resident on the computer and encrypted? Are they in the cloud? I’ve downloaded the updated client, but I haven’t linked it to Google Reader yet – I need more answers.

  21. “considering they read your email for advertising, it’s not a far stretch to think they’ll do the same with your feeds.”

    That’s overstating it. There is no ‘they’. It’s a cold, impersonal computer scan that looks for keyword matches between your email and their advertisers.

    I personally don’t use email for anything I wouldn’t want anyone else to have access to.

  22. I’m actually glad they joined forces. I loved FeedDemon but I couldn’t stand using their online reader. Gmail has been the source for a lot of my primary email addresses but I’ve never really used their online RSS reader because I couldn’t sync it with FeedDemon. Now that NewsGator has merged with Google Reader, it makes things a lot easier.

    Depending on who you are, you can argue that Google has yet again invaded on our privacy but to others, it is a blessing as now people can easily get more done by logging into one service. I personally don’t see this new feature/service as an invasion of my privacy by Google. So what if they learn that I love to read dozens of computer blogs? So what if they know I read news from my local news website or to CNN? It’s not like I’m asking Google to personally store my credit card number on their servers or anything.

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