Opera 15/16/17/18/19/20+ - The Chrome Wars

  • Anyone else notice how Opera now has more in common with Google Chrome than it does with its former self (pre-15)? While I can agree with Opera's decision to move away from Presto due to compatibility issues, they've gone beyond just a change to the layout engine. So far they've copied Chrome's layout engine, user interface, extension system, and even Chrome's rapid release cycle. If Opera was trying to be Opera, then why all these changes and why all at once? If this is suppose to be an opportunity to increase Opera's market share, it sucks. All this does is draw attention to Chrome, not Opera. The market is already saturated with browsers imitating Chrome.

    Regardless of how low Opera's market share has been pre-15, it was not because they didn't have a good product. Opera was the one that started tabbed browsing, mouse gestures, sessions, speed dial,..etc. Opera's main problem is that their marketing sucks. IE and Safari are the “default” browsers on their respective operating systems. Google’s brand positioning is simplicity and speed. Firefox is that it's the most customizable browser and has strong support from the open-source community. And Opera... I don't even know what they tried to market their browser as. If they started offering Opera as the perfect Facebook browser for example they would quickly move up. And if we're going to look at Opera's market share, lets look at the fact that Opera was ad-sponsored, which prevented OS distributions from including it, and didn't become free until late 2005 with 8.5 (more than a year after the release of Firefox).

  • Sounds like too many other threads ...

    Opera/Presto had already mostly copied the Chrome extension API, now that they use Blink it is even more so. As far as the rapid release cycle, that's required ... if Chrome has a known bug that they release an update for, Opera has to release one also or else they would have an unpatched bug.

    Actually, about Opera 10, Opera was the most customizable browser (no matter what Firefox said). It may not have had as many extensions (or even had extensions at all - I forget when we got extensions) but you could add buttons, create your own menus, gestures or keyboard shortcuts, and even modify the dialogs if they didn't fit your netbook screen or whatever.

  • Quite agree that marketing is not so accurate to the product. It was advertised to be "the fastest browser on the Earth". Sometimes later it became "our best browser", ignoring any good features like customizable shortcuts, GUI, and small memory footprint. Actually, all these "ignored features" really make me browse fast, not just the rendering speed that my eyes can't really catch.

  • I remember there was talk of how the switch of the layout engine would free up development time to "features". Yet those features have been few across 4 major version numbers. Only the bookmarks bar comes to mind as a major change, but even then some claim that Chromium already had bookmarks. Then a few keyboard and mouse shortcuts. That's all. Stash is still an unfinished idea.

    I'm still hoping to see the product evolve into something like Chrome Professional, with control over what is normally uncontrallable on the web (so that eventually someting like the Kiosk mode could be implemented). This niche is being abandoned by Firefox, and Chrome already offers simplicity and speed, by installing itself and automatically updating itself and offering precious few controls – that's simple – and Google can tune their sites to Chrome for speed.

    The rapid release cycle is confusing. But as long as the autoupdater does not embed itself deeply into the system, stopping the browser updating is not a problem. There is this trend for autoupdates moving from a command to retrieve the latest version number, to an optional frequent check, to a check that happens on each and every startup and is even difficult to prevent, creating security issues while attempting to solve others. (A fake version may be pushed, or one with functionality intentionally disabled.)

    Chrome's design looks foreign. Almost everything is a web page, making me feel that my desktop has been highjacked and held hostage up on the clouds.

  • Originally posted by j7nj7n:

    ... Chrome's design looks foreign. Almost everything is a web page, making me feel that my desktop has been highjacked and held hostage up on the clouds.

    Perhaps that's the hidden cost of "free" in this marketable-data-centric digital universe that the Internet has evolved into?

  • Originally posted by j7nj7n:

    Only the bookmarks bar comes to mind as a major change, but even then some claim that Chromium already had bookmarks.

    I don't know about the implementation details, but on the surface it looks like the Chromium bookmarks bar with a few minor changes.

  • Should Opera's design build off of Presto based versions (v7-12) or Chrome?

    [x] I dont care about the engine, I only care about the features.

  • Originally posted by serious:

    I dont care about the engine,

    Then don't you care if sites work in Opera or not?

  • @Pesala: I had never problems with Presto, so thats a non-issue really.

  • Originally posted by Frenzie:

    I don't know about the implementation details, but on the surface it looks like the Chromium bookmarks bar with a few minor changes.

    The first version of chropera didn't even have that bookmarks bar. So enabling that bookmarks bar was a 'huge' new feature. And it doesn't do anything special. (It's just bar with a bookmark on it. No nicknames, no descriptions, no search function for bookmars only, no treeview, etc...
    (At first they even recommended to use an extension for bookmarks: http://my.opera.com/ODIN/blog/2013/07/02/introducing-opera-15-for-desktop-and-a-fast-release-cycle). And to make it even worse: although it's now identical to how chrome has it, it's still disabled by default. And the preferences show no option for it. The only way to enable it is by (manually going to) opera://flags/#quick-access-bar and enable it there.

    Opera is no longer actively maintaining an engine and claimed (somewhere) that that means they would have more time to work on new innovative features? So... I wonder... Where are these 'innovative' features? They enabled another chrome feature in the opera:flags, they copied the 'discover' tab from the mobile version (which is useless as you can't say add/remove specific sites).
    Opera 12 (and earlier) had 1 main problem and that is that nobody knew about them, because opera did ZERO marketing. The only people that knew about it are people who visit technology like websites (where an article said they had released a new versions with major new 'breath-taking' new features).

    And now? Still no marketing, no features (at all), will never be faster then chrome, will never be more compatible then chrome, not customizable at all, less news about opera on tech sites (no new features = no special article about the new features them. Opera turbo got an article about it, same for 'opera unite'. Unite might not have been as popular as they hoped, but at least it got them into the news a few extra times).
    Judging from what I know and see, I can only see a dead opera in the feature.

  • Talking about compatibility, Chrome does have issues. It might be optimized and tuned for a certain websites, but it's not a silver bullet. Every browser has issues in my experience. Some has webpage login issues, some has rendering issues. And the one having rendering issues is Google Chrome.

  • Originally posted by martintangsl:

    Talking about compatibility, Chrome does have issues. It might be optimized and tuned for a certain websites, but it's not a silver bullet.

    I'd say it's the other way around. Certain websites are optimized for Chromium: mostly those by Google. Which I find rather strange, given how you'd think the web and interoperability with it is pretty much their core business.

  • Originally posted by sirnh1:

    Opera is no longer actively maintaining an engine and claimed (somewhere) that that means they would have more time to work on new innovative features? So... I wonder... Where are these 'innovative' features? (...) Judging from what I know and see, I can only see a dead opera in the feature.

    Yes, to be honest, that's what I see too. I have always been critical of the new Opera but I have tried to keep it constructive, and in fact I have kept Opera Developer as a secondary browser (Opera 12.16 is still my main browser, of course) to use for Facebook and GMail, and watch its progress. I didn't hope for the new Opera to ever become as satisfactory to me as the old one, but at least I trusted the developers to really devote their time to new features as promised. I.e., I was prepared to not get the handy IRC client back, I was even convincing myself to accept that I would have to make a sacrifice and give up my beloved menu bar (and it would be the first program for which I gave up that - I switched from Office to OpenOffice due to no menu bar, in spite of the latter being inferior in all the rest of the aspects). But at least I thought we would get get a decent download manager, proxy settings, proper bookmarks, simple but handy settings like click on tab to minimize or disable X button on each tab, maybe some MDI settings, options for moving tabs to the side, status bar with URL information on hover, etc.

    The reality is that it's been half a year, six major versions (!) on the Developer stream, and they have implemented almost no significant features. The pace at which they implement them is much, much slower than with the Presto-based Opera, contrary to what they said. And since I'm sure the Opera developers which brought us a great browser with so many handy features haven't become incompetent overnight, I'm convinced that the reason is just that the company doesn't want to focus on the desktop browser anymore. They probably have allocated almost no resources to it. Honestly, if this is the case, it would probably have been better that they had allocated no resources at all and declared the browser a legacy product. Because the way they're doing it, I'm honestly beginning to feel deceived. I feel that they have been giving us the hope that with a bit of patience they would give us a good browser again, and that they never really had the intention of doing so. I am patient, if I thought that Opera would really give me a good browser in another year, or even in two years (which is quite a lot in Internet terms), I would wait and even keep the incomplete Opera Developer installed to help by testing it and sending reports. But what I won't do is wait for nothing, and help a company which I can't really trust anymore, with a browser that is never going to be good and probably is bound to die because there is just no point in installing it.

    I really hope I'm wrong. I hope in a year we get a really great Opera browser. But this is my sincere opinion right now.

  • Originally posted by Al-Khwarizmi:

    I switched from Office to OpenOffice due to no menu bar, in spite of the latter being inferior in all the rest of the aspects

    I find it much easier to keep styles and content separate in LibreOffice than in MS Office. Also ymmv, but for me the only aspect where MS Office is truly superior is in track changes.

    Originally posted by Al-Khwarizmi:

    The reality is that it's been half a year, six major versions (!) on the Developer stream, and they have implemented almost no significant features.

    More realistically speaking they're like point releases. If you mentally call the current release 1.8, the upcoming one 1.9, and the one after that 2.0 it doesn't sound quite so crazy.

  • Originally posted by Al-Khwarizmi:

    I am patient, if I thought that Opera would really give me a good browser in another year, or even in two years ...

    What a good browser is supposed to be, is a matter of perspective.
    New visions may lead to new perspectives.
    Opera ASA made the hop. It's now your turn if you want to like the new browser.

    I think some Opera veterans won't make the hop though.

  • Hypothetical question (particularly given my lack of software know-how):

    What would it take to keep the last version of Opera Presto (v.12.16) relatively compatible with most internet sites... especially the more popular social sites? If we were to forget about any future development of features but simply focused on compatibility issues and security updates, what would be required... how difficult would it be... how time-consuming and costly for the company given its current decision to fully develop the new Blink version of Opera? 😕

  • Originally posted by leushino:

    Hypothetical question (particularly given my lack of software know-how):

    What would it take to keep the last version of Opera Presto (v.12.16) relatively compatible with most internet sites... especially the more popular social sites? If we were to forget about any future development of features but simply focused on compatibility issues and security updates, what would be required... now difficult would it be... how time-consuming and costly for the company given its current decision to fully develop the new Blink version of Opera? 😕

    Only the Opera developers (past and present) can answer that with any accuracy, and even their replies would be built on a variety of personal assumptions. With sites playing browser-sniffing games, seemingly on an increasing basis, it's anybody's guess whether the devs could ever catch up completely, just on that basis alone. In fact, at this point, it's all "shoulda, coulda, woulda." The Blink dice have been rolled by Opera ASA, and everyone will get to see how it all plays out over the months to come.

    From my perspective, I would have preferred Opera ASA had more effectively polled their desktop user base in advance about their "needs" - much of the angst now evident might thereby have had more effect on design evolution at the beginning; I would have preferred Opera had done a lot more "feature" development in the New Opera desktop version before ever giving up anything to the light of day. But none of that matters now. What matters is how they will go forward from here. However (and unfortunately), the way it has all unfolded thus far has acted to undercut the hopes and attitudes of a finite class of Opera users regarding what Opera's future holds, and the fallout from that continues daily. Credibility of a market supplier is a critical factor to their ongoing viability, and credibility is all about customer perceptions and expectations raised by the supplier versus the follow-through over time... and that ball is now squarely in Opera's court, both in terms of execution and accurate, meaningful communication.

    What I do know is that life itself, as well as browsing the Internet in some manner or other, will continue with or without New Opera. Passionate critics and supporters alike would both do well to keep that firmly in mind.

  • Thanks for the insightful response. Much to ponder.

  • Originally posted by Tradeofjane:

    So far they've copied Chrome's layout engine, user interface, extension system, and even Chrome's rapid release cycle.

    The user interface was made from scratch, so it is not a copy. Chrome did not invent the basic browser interface, and we had to start somewhere to get the new version off the ground (namely with a solid foundation).

    Originally posted by martintangsl:

    Talking about compatibility, Chrome does have issues. It might be optimized and tuned for a certain websites, but it's not a silver bullet.

    So far, it has been basically a silver bullet. Very few compatibility issues, especially when compared with Opera 12.

    Originally posted by Al-Khwarizmi:

    The reality is that it's been half a year, six major versions (!) on the Developer stream, and they have implemented almost no significant features.

    You are paying too much attention to version numbers. They are not really relevant anymore. All the version number tells you is that it's a new version. However, the new version could have small or big changes. You really can't tell from the version number.

  • Originally posted by haavard:

    Originally posted by martintangsl:

    Talking about compatibility, Chrome does have issues. It might be optimized and tuned for a certain websites, but it's not a silver bullet.

    So far, it has been basically a silver bullet. Very few compatibility issues, especially when compared with Opera 12.

    I noticed that.

    I've been using the "new" Opera since the addition of the bookmarks bar. I'm very happy to no longer having to go back to Firefox for site issues.

    I talked others into using Opera. However, most have quit Opera and when they did it was always due to site rendering issues. When Opera matures a bit more, I'll try to reintroduce them.

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