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Off-line Browsers

Open Market OM-Express   
Delivering the Web Without the Wait

By Jon Kaufthal (07/31/96)

Open Market's $29.95 OM-Express functions as a proxy server and off-line Web reader and works with any browser to accelerate Web viewing. The first version of the product, available for download in a free, 30-day trial version, performed impressively, but the user interface left something to be desired.

For those with dial-up connections to the Internet, OM-Express makes surfing the Web much faster by performing the role of a proxy server as well as that of an off-line browser. Pages can be manually cached or can be retrieved according to a predetermined schedule. And unlike Netscape's cache, pages are deleted only when you want them to be, not automatically.

Like Netscape's cache, OM-Express is seamlessly integrated with the Web, so local copies of Web pages can be referenced by true URLs--not separate file names. Through this technique, OM-Express automatically takes effect whenever a cached page is called. And reloading a page actually brings up the newest version, not an outdated file.

OM-Express's interface takes some getting used to. A toolbar at the top has oddly shaped buttons with non-intuitive icons. Fortunately, tool tips pop up whenever you hover the cursor over any of these buttons. This is not the case, however, with the cryptic status bar at the bottom of the screen that attempts to illustrate the progress of a loading Web page.

OM-Express employs a file/folder metaphor, with groups of Web pages residing in folders, known as packages. These packages are represented in nested menus, with tiny alarm-clock icons, updated regularly, to the left of those folders. Pages (or packages) that have changed are shown in blue (although links often remained blue even after they were read), and pages that are currently being retrieved are shown in italics.

Several packages, such as Business, Daily News, and Shopping, are included with OM-Express, and users can create their own in order to group their favorite sites in separate folders. Pages can be dragged and dropped from one folder to another, making it easy to reorder your packages.

If you have a fast Internet connection, OM-Express is most likely overkill. But for those who dial-up by modem, OM-Express will make Web surfing less frustrating--once they get used to the program's quirky interface.

Open Market OM-Express
List price: $29.95. A free 30-day trial version is available for download.
Requires: Windows 3.1, 95, NT 3.51
Open Market

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