Opera, Totally Screwed?

Sep 14, 2008
Updated • Dec 11, 2012

I’ve got a feeling that the biggest loser from Google releasing Chrome is going to be Opera. I saw a lot of reviews comparing Chrome to Firefox, Safari and IE, but almost none which mentioned the fact that many of Opera’s design choices and features are part of Google’s Chrome.

Dragging a tab into a new window? Wonderful, but Opera had this first. Admittedly Chrome does it with a tiny bit more style but the fact remains.

Tabs above the address bar? Opera also had this, in fact it’s been a longstanding Opera design feature for years. After using Chrome however Opera’s top menu bar starts feeling a little superfluous.

Home screen? Opera introduced the great Speed Dial feature which I think just about everyone loves. Chrome has a similar home screen, however instead of 9 user-selected sites it displays the 9 most visited websites. Personally I get the feeling that this wasn’t a decision made because this is more functional, but because Google wanted to differentiate themselves from Opera slightly. I would be willing to bet that in future updates Chrome will introduce the option to manually set websites on the ‘speed-dial’.

Omni-bar? Opera has an address bar from which you can search directly (type g for google for example), search through your history (all visited pages are indexed) and favourites. These kind of features are found in most browser now, but Opera (and Flock) was one of the innovators in this space.

Opera has always made a name for itself in simplicity, speed and innovation. Unfortunately for them an incredible amount of development has been going on in the browser space and they’ve been somewhat knocked off their throne when it comes to performance and even innovation.

Google has already equalled Opera’s share of the market and while I don’t think it’ll be going anywhere fast (an extra 1 or 2 percent over the next year) Opera has it’s work cut out in maintaining and growing its user base. The number 2 alternative browser objective also seems just that much further away now.


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  1. Nieman said on November 26, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I just installed the latest Opera to test a site I’m developing. I was impressed by the bells and whistles, but it was breaking the display of a simple paragraph in a fixed-width DIV.

    Some of the text contained in one P element was wrapping according to the containing DIV, but some of the text was spilling out of the containing DIV. Then the text goes back to wrapping correctly. It’s like Opera is paying attention to carriage returns in the source code. The line that isn’t wrapping is a list of four-character long file extensions, so it’s not like the words are too big to fit within the bounding DIV.

    Just some screwy behavior that isn’t happening in Chrome, IE6, IE7, Firefox or Safari.

    Sorry Opera.

  2. Rahul said on October 26, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Opera is here to stay…

  3. Rahul said on October 26, 2008 at 9:40 am

    I used IE 7 for long time, Then Firefox 1,2 & 3, but now i m using Opera and its really great. The type of sleek look and easy design gives me a treat everytime i use it. Unlike FF which always releases add ons resembling features from other browsers it is more innovative and good.

  4. John said on September 26, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Before I switched to Opera I used IE, Firefox in that order. Now I’m completely satisfied with Opera. Snappier execution time, lightweight, small memory footprint, all-in-one ‘batteries included’ design makes it a ‘Rock-Star’! ;)

  5. jan said on September 23, 2008 at 3:54 am

    SAY IT AIN’T SO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. h said on September 20, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Opera has suffered this plight for years and survives anyway. To be honest, I think Chrome’s more likely to get IE users than kill off the other competitors.

    Opera desktop’s only real hope for market dominance would be if people gave a shit about security. Which they clearly don’t ;)

  7. mike said on September 18, 2008 at 2:05 am


    Yes, I have utilized that config option (and a couple of others). None have restored the behavior I’m looking for. In short, I want to see the old Opera 9.2 address bar behavior. The address bar is not where I want to do searches – that is what the search area is for. Search results just clutters up the address bar information making it virtually impossible to do what I want. I want typed in history for the address bar. I’d prefer that it be updated as I use it by moving the most recently used item to the top of the list. I explicitely do not want the address bar to be the general search area. Either one of the search area or Google would do that admirably.

  8. Rarst said on September 17, 2008 at 6:38 pm


    From your comment I am not sure what part exactly you dislike in new Opera address bar… If it is content search – it can be easily disabled without touching rest:

    opera:config > UserPrefs > Addressbar Content Search

  9. mike said on September 17, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Whether Opera overcomes the competition will be determined by what the Opera browser does for it’s users. Opera has been my browser of choice for a long time (well before it was free) – mostly out of performance but usually also out of behaviour. Until 9.5. It appears that many like speeddial. That is fine. I don’t but since I can effectively get it out of my way it is no problem. I see no reason why everybody can’t have the behavior they prefer. But with 9.5 I can no longer browse as I have for years because of the way the address bar has been changed to work. And this time they no longer care to provide a choice to go back to the old behavior.

    FF did the same stupid thing with their “awesome bar” (NOT!) but although it appears they were dragged kicking and screaming to allow users choice, in the end they did. I have a dozen or so places I visit every day. I don’t like bookmarks. (In early times I saved them by the hundreds – and never needed them a second time. History too IME is filled with one-off crap I’ll likely (very) seldom need again.) I have always been able to just go through the rotation of common places via the address bar but no longer – at least easily and in the manner I prefer. The best I can now do is disable the new address bar crap and manually edit ~/.opera/opera.dir to get the sites I want listed where I want. Of course you can’t add a new one by simply typing nor does the list update which one was last visited by moving the most recent to the top. Maybe nobody else likes that behavior (though I know that isn’t true because I’ve found entire threads complaining about the behavior change) but it is nevertheless how I prefer to work.

    What will kill opera for me is when I can get the behavior I prefer with the speed I want somewhere else. I don’t care who builds what browser. I even tend to be a brand loyal person but I’m not going to drink anyones koolaid and loyalty is a two way street. Opera making fundamental changes with no way back demonstates a lack of loyalty to existing user preferences. It is immaterial whether opera devs think it’s the better way. What matters is whether it is the users way. Choice is paramount.

  10. Rarst said on September 15, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    >stealing good ideas is not a crime. It’s recognition of the quality of the product themselves.

    Recognition is when they say “we got it from there”. Like Microsoft and RSS icon story.

    When features are copied but presented (obviously or implyingly) as something new and original that reeks.

    I agree that competition is good but I think winning competition should not be the goal. Making the good browser should. :)

  11. Marc-O said on September 15, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I understand the fear for opera, but my own experience is totally different. I always use two browsers, and now Chrome has replaced firefox, not opera. For my relatively old machine (4 years old), both chrome and opera are better, quicker than firefox 3. I still keep firefox aroud, but only for some old broken goverment websites, but apart from that, I don’t miss it much.

    About opera losing the war… Is there a war worth fighting for anyway? I see microsoft wanting a large control of the user base, and I feel that firefox is also aggressive on these metrics, but must every browser get benchmarked against these stupid numbers? I rarely care for the market share of the products I’m using, nor with the sale numbers of the artists I listen to. Firefox 3 had a great download day lauch, but it’s ultimately futile. The browser is neither better nor worse because of the number of users it has. [edit: this is actually slightly important firefox, because it actually gets most of its qualities from the plug-ins, which are made by the fans and the users, but it’s not directly correlated with the number of users.]

    I agree that Chrome stole a lot from the existing browsers, and was built on the experience of excellent browsers (a good design, and google’s own natural publicity power helped do the rest). But I’m not bitter. From an intellectual standpoint, I welcome competition, and stealing good ideas is not a crime. It’s recognition of the quality of the product themselves. I’d probably have been disappointed if google chrome didn’t support the best features of the existing browsers. Opera will probably not get the credit for its good innovations, but the underdogs rarely do (outside the restricted circle of people who already know opera well).

  12. george said on September 15, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Opera may die only if the developers stop supporting their browser. But while a link to download Opera will be on the web, their fans will take it, this is for sure. I think they know the marketplace is lost, but the browser is strong, secure far from others, no mentioning that no nead to use gmail, gtalk, and also google reader. All is in your hands when you run it, and its yours no a simple complemente nor Microsoft nor Google. Customization cannot be more flexible. Does not touch any part of operating system, runs from USB, has a Torified version.

    But, but I sadly agree that they had not been so friendly to promote a very friendly relationship with guests. Many people think that Opera cannot do things saying so here and there just because they don´t know how to use it. People in general are lazy I include myself. I use Opera from Win 3.11, and never have being dissapointed. Some bad pages or tricky pages make me 1% open IE7. I installed Firefox, its good but I have to look for plugins, its not a piece of software its more than one working for the browser itself. Firefox whithout extensions would be your browser ? Chrome exists just because the name of Google is so strong. By now is a browser than after more than 10 years was not in the Web, they collected the best of all others and stole it, practices they were learning from Micro$oft. Years encouraging people to use Firefox, and now they go and make their one, is ok but I dont see no innovation in it, the adress bar capturing all your movements may be. In my country there is an adage… “Get fame, an go to sleep”. Opera is not famous so if they want to continue working I will be continue using it.

  13. Zachary said on September 15, 2008 at 8:26 am

    I agree with MK. Not many poeple realise just how much Opera has innovated. Heck, Opera invented tabbed browsing back in 1994.

  14. Rarst said on September 15, 2008 at 6:29 am

    >My main complaint with Opera is that it does not render many websites properly. For example, my blog at WordPress can’t be used because it will not recognize my username and password.

    Worpdpress login is simple form. That works perfectly with Opera.

    >About five of my favorite web sites appear broken in Opera

    Links? :)

    >Chrome, being a new browser just surpassed Opera grabbing one percent of the market.

    Chromу is crappy beta used by few geeks inspired by insane blog hype. It is not surpassing anyone for now.

    PS damn, Google good at brainwashing. :)

  15. dualsighter said on September 15, 2008 at 1:30 am

    Opera beats plain vanilla Firefox by a mile, less memory footprint, far more customizable interface and loads of built-in functionalities that can be activated at will, but it’s no match for Firefox loaded with extensions. Sure, Opera probably natively provide 80% of the functions that extensions do for FF, but that’s when usability comes into play, Opera’s native handling of tabs is far superior than FF, but with Tab Mix Plus add-on, I no longer miss Opera. I have over 60 extensions (I avoid heavy ones though, like Piclens, totally window-dressing) installed in FF, and totally bent them to my desired customization. Opera just can’t do that for me. But it’s still an excellent browser, whenever I need to do/read something quick, I still fire up Opera.

    Google Chrome on the other hand, has an interesting underhood, the customization is too primitive at this point, if its going to support extensions in the final release, it will steal FF user base, not much of Opera’s. I don’t see Opera die, but it doesn’t have much prospect at growing user base in its 10th incarnation.

  16. Joe said on September 14, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    I have only one thing to say, try Opera.
    You’ll never go back to whatever you used before.

  17. Omar Upegui R. said on September 14, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    “Opera has always made a name for itself in simplicity, speed and innovation. Unfortunately for them an incredible amount of development has been going on in the browser space and they’ve been somewhat knocked off their throne when it comes to performance and even innovation.”

    I’ve bent myself backwards trying to use Opera, but the software doesn’t come up to par. Instead I prefer Flock social browser as first choice and Firefox as second runners up.

    My main complaint with Opera is that it does not render many websites properly. For example, my blog at WordPress can’t be used because it will not recognize my username and password.

    About five of my favorite web sites appear broken in Opera; however, with the rest of my browsers everything is fine. I’ve written in Opera forums, but nobody seems to care. I wrote directly to Opera and nobody answered. They’re not a very friendly company; whereas Flock and Firefox are always there to help you.

    Maybe this cold attitude towards the end user, is what keeps Opera from growing. Their global market share is almost non-existent. Chrome, being a new browser just surpassed Opera grabbing one percent of the market.

    I think Opera will keep on living because its performance has been exceptional in the mobile arena. I’m glad for them; since they’ve tried very hard to remain alive.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

  18. iampriteshdesai said on September 14, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    It lags behind all others(in market share)
    And Opera’s ad filters arent as comprehensive as Adblock. And there is no Costomise Google. And Foxytunes!

  19. Rarst said on September 14, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    >Adblock and Adblock+ are amazing.

    So are ad-filters you can use with Opera. I don’t see much difference between extension and separate app. Both aren’t native browser feature.

    >Opera users dont have Flashblock.
    We do.

    >Opera is incompatible with Gmail
    Works fine for me.

    >Opera 9.5 is the worst Opera release ever.

    Not worst but clearly not best either. It is currently in rought spot trying parts for new Opera 10 on old codebase.

    >Opera is good, it is second best browser to Firefox. Unfortunately it lags behind all others.

    I really can’t understand this part. :)

  20. iampriteshdesai said on September 14, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    I have been using Firefox ever since I started using net. Even I don’t have any complaints about it. I have tried each and every major browser and I must say nothing comes close to beating Firefox. Adblock and Adblock+ are amazing. Opera users dont have Flashblock. Opera is incompatible with Gmail, why is it so? Opera 9.5 is the worst Opera release ever, It was rushed, unbaked simply to outrun Firefox. And Firefox 3 consumes less memory than Opera. Opera is good, it is second best browser to Firefox. Unfortunately it lags behind all others. Hope Mini does well. Do you know that Opera Mini can be run on PC, full screen?
    Safari is pure Crap. Opera deserves its market share.

  21. James said on September 14, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    I use Opera since it became a free browser… and… you know what? I have ZERO complains about it. It’s a browser utilizing minimum computer’s resources and giving maximum results. I mean it. Firefox, not bad but, with each release it “consumes” more and more resources, especially, when several extensions are installed… this is annoying. Opera is totally opposite, it really fast and reliable: maximum results at minimum time and resources. The Chrome is bellow any possible critics whatsoever. My opinion, Google should more concentrate on improving relevancy of its search engine results, instead of creating some browser! I guess, the ONLY thing Opera is truly missing is the aggressive marketing. Period.

  22. Ajay said on September 14, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Well, I don’t think Opera will die either. I love the browser and use it for a lot of alternate browsing.

    One thing that I miss not having in Opera is Roboform compatibility :(

    As for Google Chrome, I’m still not comfortable with it!

  23. MK said on September 14, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Opera is such a good software, and the company deserved more credit for inventing most of the features we see in modern browsers today. And I will continue supporting them just because of that.

  24. joshua said on September 14, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    see… chicks love speed dial! haha

    I don’t think Opera will die… it’s managed a strong year by year growth based purely on users not market share…. however I think it’ll become increasingly irrelevant…

  25. tracy said on September 14, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    i agree… but i still use opera because of speed dial =)

  26. Rarst said on September 14, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Opera will die, Linux will rule the desktop… Yeah, sure. Some day. I only have to live long enough. :)

    Opera will die if it starts failins, not because of one more competing browser.

    >However they will rule the biggest new market – mobiles. Thanks to their Opera Mini.

    Actually they won’t. Mobile browsing is dominated by Nokia native browser. Opera Mini is like 3rd – still a lot, but not a leader.

    It same as with desktops – whatever ships installed on most phones wins.

  27. iampriteshdesai said on September 14, 2008 at 10:45 am

    You are correct, even I believe Opera will die its natural death. It wasn’t kicking around too much.
    One way in which Opera can come up is to go Open source. Which they won’t go, probably.
    However they will rule the biggest new market – mobiles. Thanks to their Opera Mini. So Opera company has a bright future.

  28. hidemm said on September 14, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Opera is a browser that has loyal users. Firefox is all over the internet and its kind of annoying when i reach a website where it says install firefox to watch or something like that.

    I find Opera the only browser that meets my needs nearly out of the box. Firefox will never do that.

  29. rruben said on September 14, 2008 at 8:53 am

    I hate it to say but this is totally true.

    For me first it was Firefox and Opera.

    Now it is Firefox and Chrome.

    Opera is a great browser but the competition is to big for them.

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