Opera is now ad and cost free…

[ music | Queen – Play The Game ]

Opera’s browser is now ad and cost free. This is an interesting development. They’re still selling premium support, but MoFo does that too, that’s fairly common. Under the header “Why we’re going free” they don’t actually say why. Under the header “What makes Opera’s web browser unique” they don’t list one unique feature. “Opera includes pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing, integrated searches, and advanced functions like Opera’s groundbreaking E-mail program, RSS Newsfeeds and IRC chat.” Netscape had an integrated email client a decade ago. I’d hardly call that groundbreaking. Mozilla and Firefox has everything else as well. So, nothing unique by any definition of the word.

Now, this is interesting because now the main non-technological difference between Firefox and Opera is the availability of the source code. Neither has ads, neither has a license fee, both have excellent rendering ability and standards compliance, both have features IE lacks, and both have rabidly fanatical communities around the products. Also this is interesting because from the consumer’s standpoint, the browsers can compete on a level playing field. Firefox always had the advantage of being both cost free and ad free, while Opera users had to chose to either pay, or live with ads. Now it’s a head to head competition on features and usability, to be judged by marketshare alone. Opera has put their money where their mouth is, literally. Let the competition begin.


Here’s why I use Opera in addition to Firefox:

1. Opera is faster, and consumes less memory. On my system, FF takes about 15 seconds to start up on average. Most of the time, I’m quite happy with that. But when I need to quickly bring up a window to look something up, I use Opera.

Incidentally, this is why I use Opera only when looking stuff up in World of Warcraft. WoW tends to choke my system as it is, and loading FF in the background is a very painful experience.

Just for comparative purposes: if I load up all my pages in Firefox into Opera and check the memory usage, Firefox is using about 66 MB of memory, and Opera uses 28 MB.

2. Better reading controls. I read a lot of online stories, news posts, fiction, etc. I don’t know if it’s my monitor or my eyes, but cranking up the text size makes life a lot easier. Obviously, this is easy in Firefox, but it often causes pages to spill over the side of the screen. One feature I’d kill (well, not really) to have in FF is "Fit Page Width" or whatever it’s called. It’s an absolute god-send for pages designed for one size and one size alone.

Honestly, I love Firefox, but there are still areas where Opera has it beat, hands down. I personally look forward to both browsers’ development.

no unique features? i don’t know…

1. their zoom function is different from firefox’, ff only zooms the text, while opera zooms the entire page, including images.

2. full-screen mode? for the projection-mode (to replace powerpoint in presentations) i know of no similar feature in ff.

i might be wrong of course, if so i’d like to be enlightened.

"no unique features? i don’t know…"

Of course Opera has things Firefox doesn’t. The point was they don’t list any of them under the title "What makes Opera’s web browser unique".

"2. full-screen mode? for the projection-mode (to replace powerpoint in presentations) i know of no similar feature in ff."

Press F11. (It’s in the View menu, as well.) I don’t know if it’s the same as Opera’s fullscreen mode, but it’s certainly <em>a</em> fullscreen mode. 🙂

Being curious enough what the heck free Opera is, I gave it (8.5) a try. The first thing that delighted me was analyzing of proxy settings. When started using it I found it pretty intuitive, using the same UI behaviour pattern, eg. middle-click to open a link in a new tab, Ctrl+Tab to switch between tabs, etc. Also, what cathced my sight was evident edge Opera has over FF on the UI features field. To enlist ’em here would take up much space though;-)

They weren’t saying that putting an email client inside was groundbreaking. They’re saying the email client itself is groundbreaking. They do a lot of innovative things in the mail client that Netscape/Mozilla don’t. I always tell people about BOTH FF and Opera, because IMO it’s a personal taste issue. They’re both good at what they’re aiming for.

I did notice that their "why" was not very "why"ish.

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