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Amidst the Chrome excitement, Opera continues to grow

Opera last made headlines when it became the first Windows browser to past the demanding Acid3 test of internet compatibility.  Hot off the release of Opera "Kestrel" 9.5 and this good news, Opera is preparing to roll out its latest major release:  9.6.  The beta of the upcoming browser went live today.

The news is likely largely overshadowed by the release of Google's Chrome browser.  The Norwegian team behind Opera, however, is not worried at all about Google's entry into the market.  In fact they're excited.

Opera's PR manager, Thomas Ford caught up with DailyTech with news of the release.  He states:

I'd also like to give a short update regarding the browser upstart from Mountain View. When Google announced Chrome, many experts predicted the death of Opera. Google is too big, Opera too small. At the time we said our numbers would grow and we would continue to innovate. We're doing both.

After looking at the numbers since last week's release of Chrome, Opera's own usage worldwide grew 3% (and 10% in the last four weeks). With more than 25 million people using Opera on their PCs, it proves the awareness of alternative browsers opens more people to discovering all their browsing options.

Opera's continued growth in the face of a more crowded market is a reassuring sign for the company.  However, their continued growth will be dependent on whether they can keep up with the quality of the Firefox 3, IE8, and Chrome browser, all of which are throwing much larger teams and more financial resources against the problem of developing the perfect browser.

With that in mind, Opera 9.6 is shaping up rather nicely with improvements to its Opera Link browser synchronization service.  You can now carry custom search engines and typed history from browser to browser, handy for users on the go.  Users on dialup or unreliable wireless connections will appreciate the new low-bandwidth mode for the email client, which allows optimal operation on slower networks. 

RSS feeds now are visually previewed.  There's also new mechanics for dismissing unimportant messages and flagging important messages for attention.  Overall the general speed is improved as well.

While Opera will certainly have a tough road ahead competing with Firefox, Google, and a revitalized Internet Explorer, its developers are hard at work, to continue providing users with an independent solution.  As Mr. Ford states, "We (promise) to keep innovating. Opera 9.6 is just one step in that direction."

Opera is available for Windows, Linux, and OS X.

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By mackintire on 9/10/2008 5:37:21 PM , Rating: 2
I've been using Opera since version 5.0

When 6.0 came out I used IE 6 about 30% of the time.

When 7.0 came out I used IE 6 about 10% of the time

When 8.0 came out I used IE less than 1% of the time.

Only a few older websites have issues with Opera, and those same websites have issues with firefox.

Opera out of the box has the same functionality as Firefox with 40+ extensions added.

I don't like the default button layout, but once I mapped everything to where I like. I've been set. I've introduced Opera to over 50 other individuals. At work we typically run three browsers. IE, Opera and FireFox. With about equal use of all three. Neither the Opera or the Firefox users end up with spyware. The IE machines occasionally end up getting something that our antivirus usually takes care of.

RE: Opera
By daftrok on 9/10/2008 6:08:59 PM , Rating: 2
The main reason that I use Firefox is because of the DownThemAll extension that essentially downloads files in five pieces so that overall the speed is extraordinary. On top of that Adblock Plus is a bit more intuitive than Opera (but that's just my opinion) and the DownloadHelper allows me to yoink YouTube and mp3 streams from websites. The IE tab is (fortunately) become less and less useful because practically every site supports Firefox but in the earlier days it was a god send.

I plan on transitioning to Chrome as soon as the official release comes out. If it can implement what I said above then I'll have no more reason to use Firefox.

RE: Opera
By jgvandemeer on 9/10/2008 7:27:26 PM , Rating: 1
I plan on transitioning to Chrome as soon as the official release comes out
Why? No one even knows how good it will be yet. A bit early for plans isn't it?

RE: Opera
By icanhascpu on 9/10/2008 7:35:37 PM , Rating: 2
Did you read his sentance after that?

RE: Opera
By jgvandemeer on 9/10/2008 7:54:27 PM , Rating: 5
Even if it implements the whole Firefox laundry list, it doesn't mean its faster, smaller, easier to use, more stable, etc etc.

It just seems strange to "plan" to switch to vaporware unless it offers something really compelling your current software doesn't.

RE: Opera
By daftrok on 9/10/2008 8:20:46 PM , Rating: 2
I've been using Google Chrome Beta (am using it now) and it is much faster in many ways when compared to Firefox. The tab browsing is perfect, all I need is an Adblock Plus, DownThemAll and Download Helper on this browser and its bye bye Firefly.

RE: Opera
By icanhascpu on 9/10/2008 8:24:06 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't mean it wont be either, but I get your point. It would probably be best to see how well those things are implemented.

So far though, they have done search alot better than Opera, and slightly better than FF. It falls inline with how a multitab browser is support to be. I always found it odd logically how FF and Opera open a new window for downloads or searches respectively. Indeed, one can configure them to be open proper, but it seems silly in a browser where the point is one window interface to have often used GUI elements separate from that window.

Having said that, if Google keeps on such a logical track i can see alot of people switching.

RE: Opera
By restless on 9/11/2008 2:24:49 AM , Rating: 2
whats better in Chrome searching compared with Opera?!
AFAIK Opera was first browser that implemented inline searching from address bar (via prefixes like "g" for google) and its is flexible enough to let one choose the search engine with the expense of 1 letter. And the fact that you need 1 click to have download window opening as tab forever... I don't remember when I had to configure anything like that, i just install over and over new Opera versions... since 6.x or somth like that. and it WORKS.
Chrome is interesting but many things lacking... and it freezes 2-3 times a day for me. And I still wanna see if they'll make a more useful interface to handle favorites

RE: Opera
By icanhascpu on 9/11/2008 3:12:52 AM , Rating: 2
You seem confused.

Text search. Press ctrl+f

Also, I dont want a new window/tab for downloads. The FF addon and Chrome do it much better. I cant wait till Opera does the same in a future build.

RE: Opera
By PseudoKnight on 9/11/2008 5:34:36 AM , Rating: 2
A somewhat popular feature in Opera is inline search using '.' instead of ctrl-f. It doesn't scan to the first instance, but it highlights all instances. More importantly, there's no extra window.

I like the tab/sidebar for downloading in Opera more than FF (including the couple addons I've tried). Chrome uses tabs and a pop indicator of progress. I REALLY liked Opera's download manager when I could delete downloaded files from the transfer manager. Unfortunately they removed that feature. Now none of them do it.

RE: Opera
By Iger on 9/11/2008 7:24:00 AM , Rating: 2
'.' is a godsend. It DOES scan to the first instance and selects it, and F3 will circulate through all the instances on the page - extremely convinient. Same that Chrome, but n-years in production already... and all at the expense of 1 '.' instead of 'ctrl+f'.

Also you still(now again?) can delete files from Opera's download manager - right-click -> Advanced in the context menu.

As a side note, Opera's hated apps currently are... Google's - even now Gmail is sometimes (seldom, but still) quirky for me and Picassa is almost unusable... That said I'm not 100% sure who to blame :)

The feature set the Opera gives you in a 5MB package - is, imo, unbeatable. If you want to tinker around with add-ons - Firefox will have some nice features, but to go from scratch it's Opera ftw! :)

RE: Opera
By Staples on 9/11/2008 9:46:11 AM , Rating: 2
I have been using Opera for years. The only problem I still have since 9.5 was released is with the uploader in flickr. I have to use IE for it to work correctly. Firefox may also work. Over the years, most of the problems Opera had have been resolved.

There are a few rare sites that see Opera and give them cell phone format or warn you that all the features may not work correctly or even worse tell you that you have been denied access because of an imcompatible browser but this is just because they are designed very poorly. It is not a bug of Opera. There used to be an option of which browser to tell the site you are using, this would get around the problem but I actually looked for it yesterday and I think they have removed it :(

Try to pay your Sprint bill online and the website will dish Opera the cell phone format web page. Just another example of why Sprint sucks. Hire a competent web programmer!!!

RE: Opera
By PseudoKnight on 9/13/2008 12:32:24 AM , Rating: 2
You're right, it does scan to the first instance. I switch between browsers so much (web dev) that I use ctrl-f almost all the time. (despite Opera being my primary browser) Sorry about the inaccuracy.

As far as deleting in the download manager, something may be screwy with my install considering I've installed over it so many times. I noticed the changelog bringing back explorer context menu, but it's not there for me. I'm going to install fresh and see if I can't speed it up and update this.

RE: Opera
By zzeoss on 9/11/2008 3:18:35 AM , Rating: 1
It's just that we all expect more from Chrome than what the we saw in this preview.
One compelling feature is the separation of tab processes.
Since I started watching live-tv I get crashes from the sites/vlc plugin and other video plugins. Only one tab crashing would be good.
Maybe next firefox will have this too, but until then Chrome and ie8 will have it first (i won't use ie8 tho)

RE: Opera
By Justin Case on 9/10/2008 10:30:29 PM , Rating: 2
The main reason that I use Firefox is because of the DownThemAll extension that essentially downloads files in five pieces so that overall the speed is extraordinary.

Only if the server was configured by an idiot. If the server has no bandwidth limits, it will always use all available bandwidth (N connections means the speed of each gets divided by N, so no gain).

If the server has a bandwidth limit per client IP, then it will limit your 5 connections just as it would limit a single connection (ie, limit your total bandwidh - see above).

The only situation in which it's faster to use multiple connections for the same file is when the server enforces has a bandwidth limit per connection but doesn't check the IP. Not many sane server admins do that, precisely because "download managers" have done that trick for 10 years. It worked fine in the first two.

On the other hand, it is desirable for a browser to be able to open multiple connections for multiple files, instead of requesting files sequentially. That greatly reduces the initial latency, and speeds up rendering of the pages, even if the overall bandwidth is no higher. One of the problems with MSIE 5 and FireFox 1 was that they would only use a couple of connections. Opera has defaulted to 16 (I think) for a long time, and can be configured to request up to 128 files at a time (most Apache servers won't allow more than 100, though, and the optimal value is around 20).

RE: Opera
By icanhascpu on 9/10/2008 11:48:26 PM , Rating: 2
8 per server 20 overall.

RE: Opera
By TP715 on 9/11/2008 1:19:33 AM , Rating: 2
I've actually run into a server like that. Deutche Grammaphon's MP3 store for some reason limited the bandwidth of a single download to so slow that it took about real time to download music. By upping the Opera connection limit and downloading multiple tracks at once, it went way faster as each track went at the bandwidth limit simultaneously.

RE: Opera
By jonmcc33 on 9/11/2008 7:33:13 AM , Rating: 2
Opera out of the box has the same functionality as Firefox with 40+ extensions added.

Firefox with 40+ extensions added causes instability in my experience. Are you saying that Opera is unstable out of the box?

RE: Opera
By vapore0n on 9/11/2008 8:20:55 AM , Rating: 1
no no no, he is saying that Opera is as bloated as FF with 40+ extensions

right? right?

RE: Opera
By jonmcc33 on 9/11/2008 6:45:59 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure what he meant but Opera sure is bloated. I don't need my web browser to handle torrent and IRC traffic. I have my own clients for that, thanks.

Favorite part of opera
By AngrySaki on 9/10/2008 7:20:43 PM , Rating: 2
Opera handles the back/forward functionality different than any other browsers. When you click "back", it doesn't hit the server at all when it loads the page, so it's pretty much instant (except on a few pages). You can hit back then forward and you're instantly back where you were.

RE: Favorite part of opera
By icanhascpu on 9/10/2008 7:29:05 PM , Rating: 2
Alot of browsers have worked like that for the last decade. IE amung them.

Not saying Operas' version of it isnt better imo, but it happens less often that I would personaly like. I'm also someone that would -really- notice this sort of thing being on dialup.

I think all browsers need to work on caching abilities and AI to an extent. Opera seems to be leading in that catagory though. I would think it would be a bigger deal that it is, as it would reduce stress on servers worldwide.

RE: Favorite part of opera
By mindless1 on 9/10/2008 8:00:32 PM , Rating: 3
Unfortunately it becomes less feasible with more and more of the web turning to active non-cached content.

RE: Favorite part of opera
By icanhascpu on 9/10/2008 8:35:04 PM , Rating: 2
The vast majority of webpage elements do not change. They should always be cached, and update maybe on a monthly basis.

Content changed far far less constantly, even on DT an image will be on the front page for over a week or more. New images are maybe 50k at most. Even on dialup that takes mere seconds to load actual new content if the relevant things are cached.

Its a matter of making the browser smarter, or at least giving options to tell the browser what sort of site you're looking at. When a 1TB drive costs 130$, there is little reason aside from leaving no trace, not to.

RE: Favorite part of opera
By mindless1 on 9/11/2008 10:50:59 PM , Rating: 2
Tell that to the world then, because it's currently not happening.

RE: Favorite part of opera
By mindless1 on 9/16/2008 10:52:17 AM , Rating: 2
Also, you're completely wrong about drive space, we shouldn't be striving to continue caching web pages on a slow medium like a hard drive. That should remain in memory, I don't ever want my browser writing to the hard drive except for persistent cookies if/when it's desired for authentication a la username/password, not forced upon me as a routine thing to do.

RE: Favorite part of opera
By Justin Case on 9/10/2008 10:22:10 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, no, MSIE didn't do that until version 7. Note that we're not just talking about using the cache of the page source and images, and re-rendering the page when you press "back". Opera actually caches the rendered pages, and has done so at least since version 6 (possibly since 5 or even 3).

This is perfectly legal by HTTP rules; browsers are not required to contact the server at all when using back / forward, unless the page was a response to a POST request.

RE: Favorite part of opera
By carroll on 9/11/2008 2:48:55 AM , Rating: 3
I for one am all out for mouse gestures. when using Firefox or MSIE, i always end up with the context menu popping up and being confused for a moment. ^^

(yes i can add-on this feature, but it doesn't behave as smooth imo)

RE: Favorite part of opera
By MattCoz on 9/11/2008 4:20:58 AM , Rating: 2
Funny, that's what I hate most about Opera. It blatantly disregards the standard behavior required when no-cache headers are sent from the server.

RE: Favorite part of opera
By MamiyaOtaru on 9/11/2008 2:21:54 PM , Rating: 2
I love that. i can force a refresh any time. The rest of the time back and forward are very fast, and I approve.

Opera. The linux of browsers
By icanhascpu on 9/10/2008 7:11:53 PM , Rating: 1
I like Opera. I want it to replace FF. I REALLY do. But the lack of a Addon community is always going to be a downside of this browser.

Font issues.
Lack of mouse smoothing customability.
Lack of in depth customability in the GUI.
Messy options/prefernaces/apperance GUI.
Lack of addon capabilities.

A browser should be a very tightly coded masterpiece, with the functionality to be modular. Opera is trying to be too much and giveing too little customization unless you like fiddling in text files and reading pages of FAQ about what obscure ini settings mean.

They need to take a month and stop innovating and start polishing.

RE: Opera. The linux of browsers
By flydian on 9/10/2008 11:02:35 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, but does your browser have a spell check feature? Because my Firefox does, and your post made it weep! =p

That said, you made good intelligent points. Sadly, the number of spelling errors (not likely to be typos when some are repeated), really took something away from your post.

Mostly though, I just wanted to negate my down rating of your post. =)

RE: Opera. The linux of browsers
By icanhascpu on 9/10/2008 11:52:14 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it does, because i use both FF and Opera. Opera before. :P

I think Opera does too, but its a separate thing that I didn't download.

RE: Opera. The linux of browsers
By carroll on 9/11/2008 2:44:03 AM , Rating: 2
I want it to replace FF.

That's something i wouldn't want, actually. Given the hype and market share of Firefox, i am quite happy that Opera continues to live its sort of 'niche' life.

Opera's share in the browser-world has always been, well, 'negligible' as some would argue. Those of us who do use it however, know why they do.

RE: Opera. The linux of browsers
By icanhascpu on 9/11/2008 3:16:36 AM , Rating: 2
To clearify, I want it to replace FF for me. I do not want FF to go away. I just want Opera to be polished in the issues i outlined.

RE: Opera. The linux of browsers
By carroll on 9/11/2008 3:26:03 AM , Rating: 2
oh heh, sorry there.

Keep up?
By Justin Case on 9/10/2008 10:07:11 PM , Rating: 2
their continued growth will be dependent on whether they can keep up with the quality of the Firefox 3, IE8, and Chrome browser

Excuse me? Just about every feature introduced into those browsers in the past 7 or 8 years was copied from Opera. Tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking, mouse gestures, fast-forward, page zooming, site nicknames, searching from the address line, quickstart, etc., etc., etc.. Not to mention the best record in terms of security, privacy, standards-compliance, speed, memory efficiency and multi-platform support.

The real question is if any of those browsers will actually introduce anything new for Opera to "keep up with".

RE: Keep up?
By acidicX on 9/11/2008 6:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
I absolutely agree.

ff extensions = all others obsolete
By neihrick1 on 9/10/2008 11:45:11 PM , Rating: 1
download statusbar, easyGestures, stylish, multisidebar, scrollbar anywhere, split browser, statusbarEx, TMP, Ubiquity. these extensions make all other browsers obsolete IMO. i'm sure there are many others as well. IE may catch up with the extensions though

By icanhascpu on 9/10/2008 11:58:46 PM , Rating: 3
Most of the stuff you mentioned there was part of Opera before you were born. Uphill both ways!

Opera betas
By Staples on 9/11/2008 9:26:49 AM , Rating: 2
Beta 1 of 9.5 was very unstable and they had that out for months. They finally released their 1 other beta before the final. I will give this one a try but in the case it is unstable, at least it is not like IE which over writes their older browsers. IE8 beta 2 still has stability issues.

RE: Opera betas
By acidicX on 9/11/2008 6:53:09 PM , Rating: 2
only if you used the 'official' betas. The daily/weekly builds kept improving more and more.. is where you get 'em.

Music to my ears
By poundsmack on 9/10/2008 5:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
I love this broswer, always have, likely always will. has everything i need and is fast and stable. keep up the good work opera, your inovations fuel the rest of the browsing world.

Not dissapearing!
By smiller83 on 9/10/2008 5:23:06 PM , Rating: 2
If nothing else, it is still the browser that powers my internet browsing on the Wii!

all-around solution
By aos007 on 9/10/2008 6:03:29 PM , Rating: 2
I use Opera as my primary browser at home (though I've been using Chrome since launch as it is very fast thanks to separate process per tab) and it's the browser I usually install first on any new machine. The reason - it has integrated email and even Bittorrent if needed. So if you get it installed, you are all set. When you're on an unfamiliar system (say customized Linux distribution such as those on netbooks) installing Opera kills several birds with one stone. However, I hope they introduce per tab process feature as seen in Chrome and (from what I hear) IE8 soon because the speed increase on a multi-core machine for users that like a lot of tabs open at the same time (e.g. me) is huge. They also still have compatibility problems with a significant number of websites I visit daily (e.g. weekly fliers on BestBuy Canada or my bank).

By invidious on 9/10/2008 6:57:29 PM , Rating: 2
Opera is a professional browser and is a complete package "out of the box". I like having my favorite features built into the browser.

I tried chrome, it needs to give you about 10 more pages of options and stop using up so much memory, but its beta so I will give it another shot once retail rolls around. Also it could use a makeover.

only thing i didnt like...
By plinkplonk on 9/10/2008 7:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
...was that it was a complete pain in the arse to get flash working with the last version of firefox i had. for some reason every time i installed it, it wouldn't work...hopefully its been fixed now.

Browser of Choice
By n00bxqb on 9/10/2008 10:59:04 PM , Rating: 2
I loves me my Opera. Awesome browser; fast, stable, secure, feature-packed. There are so many features I use on a daily basis that Opera has that other browsers don't; at least not without extensions and add-ons, which tend to make the browsers unstable and slow, in my experience (plus the features usually aren't as well-implemented).

As another said, Opera could use a bit more polish and customizability (I don't think I should have to edit a .ini file to decide how many pages I want in my Speed Dial, for example), but it is still better than the alternatives.

Opera still fastest browser out there
By Byte on 9/11/2008 1:23:21 AM , Rating: 2
I use all the browsers:

IE6, IE 7Standalone
Firefox 3, Orca, Seamonkey, Flock
Opera 7, 8, 9.5

I usually have 3-4 of them open to split up my workarea and to split up my firefox extensions for developement ect. Opera is still fastest. Try this test. Go to ebay do a search, click, now go back. In every other brower it takes probably 0.1 or more. Opera is instant period, not almost instant. Instant. I don't think any browser can dethrone firefox anytime soon with the hundreds of amazing extensions though.

By bebesito21 on 9/12/2008 12:04:46 PM , Rating: 2
And I really like it. Small, fast and lots of new features (to me - the saving tabs on close when it came to FF was AMAZING to me, then i found out opera has had that for a while). I never got into downloading extensions for FF except for tab effect and maybe 3 more that i cant remember. Opera is great though, except when i watch *certain videos ;0) the full screen option freezes the stream. so i switch to FF just for that....and back to opera for everything else.

long live opera!
By ljepava on 9/12/2008 5:36:52 PM , Rating: 2
i starteed with ie,then firefox, and last few years been using opera. i would like that they release opera without junk (irc,torrent,email client).on my pocketpc ipaq 214 i have installed opera 9.5. works great,almost as good as on my desktop fact this is written on my pocketpc using opera.keep up good work,guyz. love u.

By colorfultech on 9/15/2008 7:02:53 PM , Rating: 2
Using the earlier versions of Opera, I found a great foil to IE and Netscape (Mozilla) in Opera's configurability, relative security, and speed.

These days, browser makers release more often and incorporate more technologies in a much more competitive atmosphere. These days, more people browse, and each browser looks to have at least a cult following.

Googe's release of Chrome reminded me to look into Opera again. Opera and Chrome won't be considered in any business web development considerations soon, but for personal use, I think to revisit Opera.

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