Without going into a fully detailed history,RISC OS Developments Ltd was formed only a few short years ago with the original (and initially hush-hush) aim of funding the development of a web browser. The company has achieved a number of other things since, the most notable of which is probably taking over ownership of RISC OS itself and making it fully open source – but all the same, that original purpose was the web browser.
Since the outset, work has been underway to achieve that goal – perhaps slowly at first, but then gaining pace – and those people who helped with funding have seen updates along the way, and have been given access to beta versions of the browser.
People who were not able to help fund the browser to the same level have since been given the opportunity to do so by being able to donate a smaller amount at shows in return for CD containing an in-development version of what was called OBrowser.
Since OBrowser was made available in that way, development has changed, and the current browser project is called Iris, a browser built on Webkit (as used in the likes of Safari, for example) – which, like previous developments, has been made available as test versions to people that provided early funding to the company. Andrew Rawnsley has demonstrated Iris to the public at shows, including the very recent virtual Wakefield Show, which is available to check out on YouTube (Andrew’s RISC OS Developments talk starts at about one hour twenty eight minutes in, and the web browser specifically about twenty five minutes after that).
With developments continuing apace, although it is still some way from being suitable for a more general release, the time has come to extend the scope of the testing programme, and as such anyone who has obtained the OBrowser CD in return for a donation is now able to download the test version of Iris.
If you weren’t able to make an early contribution to the company in order to help fund development of a browser, and haven’t donated at a show in return for a CD, there is also the opportunity to do so from the comfort of your own home – OBrowser is available via !Store, and donating that way will also enable you to download and the current test version of Iris.
Being a work-in-progress still, Iris still has many rough edges – and to get the best out of it, you will need one of the more recent, faster platforms on which the OS can be run – but it does provide better support for modern web browsing on RISC OS.