Free Opera ticket

by Giles Turnbull

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Opera never has managed to become what one might consider a "mainstream" browser for OS X, but nonetheless it has its fans. Now that it's being given away for free, it might attract a few more.

The Opera development team have been pioneers for years, coming up with new ideas in browser design which have subsequently become standard, expected features in other browsers. Tabs? Opera's idea. Zooming? Opera was there first. Saved sessions? You know it.

Then there were the features that didn't catch on quite so well. Some of them, like the extensive keyboard shortcuts for doing pretty much everything without a mouse, should have been copied by the rest. Others, like the strange approach to toolbar design and the built-in email client (does anyone actually use that?), were best left alone.

Way back, when I used Windows, I just couldn't function without Opera. It outshone every other browser on that OS to such a degree that I didn't even consider switching to something else.

On OS X, Opera has much more in the way of competition. The fiddly preferences panel, the unusual toolbar arrangement, the endless array of non-browser features, all conspire to give Opera a feeling of bloat and complexity. In use as a browser, it doesn't behave like a bloated thing - it works quickly and smoothly.

Opera has critics (which app doesn't?) but now one of the most frequently used criticisms can be put aside. Now Opera's free for the taking, and anyone who spends a lot of time on the web has another potentially useful tool at their disposal. You can never have too many browsers installed.

Personally, I shall keep Opera around for times when I need to do a real quick surf on a particular topic. With image-loading and author-mode CSS toggled off, nothing beats it for speed.

Browser bashing starts here


2005-09-20 15:22:43
Of course, even on Windows, the browser now has competition in the form of Firefox. And IE7 might want to get in on that pie before long.

But back when Opera was the hot innovator, it was a godsend, and not just on Windows – if not for Opera 5.x, I would have had to use Navigator 4.7 when I switched over to Linux. And even the pre-Safari Mac landscape was pretty dull.

What turned me off was when it acquired skinnability; that made it feel klunky and sluggish. (The non-browser stuff in later versions only turned me off even more.) Mozilla was becoming usable and had just introduced tabs at the time, so strolled over into that camp and ended up stayed there. Granted, they’re both skinnable, but at least for Mozilla/Firefox, I could always get skins that didn’t offend me. Opera still looks incorrigibly garish no matter what I do.