Opera Software Will Retire Opera Unite and Widgets

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 25, 2012

Huib Kleinhout on behalf of the Opera Desktop Team made an announcement regarding the future of two of the Opera web browser's add-on platforms. Starting with Opera 12, both Opera Unite and Opera Widgets will be turned off by default for new users. The change at this point in time is not affecting existing users of either one of the services. The overall plan however is to retire both Opera Unite and Widgets later this year.

Opera Unite adds web server capabilities to the Opera browser. We have reviewed the feature back in 2011 as part of our Discovering Opera series that look at some of the unique features of the Opera browser.  Opera Unite basically turns the browser into a server, so that Opera users can share and publish contents directly without having to rely on third party services to do so. A basic example would be to make your music library available on the Internet along with a media player, or file sharing between colleagues with the files being hosted on your computer.

Opera Widgets on the other hand were Opera's initial way of providing developers and users with browser extensions. Widgets ran into their own window, which was without doubt one of the biggest things that held them back.

Now with the integration of extensions into Opera, comes a consolidation of services.  The Opera Add-ons team puts it this way:

Over the last six years we have learned a lot from our work on Opera Widgets and Opera Unite, and when we later built the extension platform for Opera 11 we benefited significantly from this experience. Our extension technology has been a great success, with millions of monthly downloads, and so far completely dwarfing the other platforms. Recently, Opera also shipped a labs version with extension support in Opera Mobile, investigating a fully cross-platform extension environment.

Moving forward we want to focus on one high quality Add-on platform across our products, rather than spending resources on maintaining legacy systems. The know how and and technologies from Unite and Widgets are already being reused in other Opera products. An example is the recently announced UPnP support in Opera Dragonfly.

While it seems understandable that Opera retires the Widget add-on platform, as it has been replaced more or less by extensions, it is not really that clear when it comes to Unite. Usage statistics seem to indicate that resources are better spend on the new extension's platforms.

What's your take on the new development?


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  1. runy said on June 20, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Seriously you think that Nikhil is wrong? Unite is a great tool. People has to read better between lines. There is no reason to cut this application that has millions of users and abandon them in a blink of an eye. I think if that’s so, the Opera browser should go down the drain as well. There is no conspiracy theory here. It is a fact that there is no reason to cancel service to Opera Unite. And please don’t blame others for your own faults. If Opera need marketing who or what stopped them? Opera has an obligation to clearly explain why they are giving up on millions of users. Meanwhile there are going to be theories all over. Thanks Opera for betraying your loyal users. Shame on you!

    1. rop said on June 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      What makes you think Unite has millions of users?

      A reason to cancel Opera Unite is if it costs a lof of money to maintain and there aren’t a lot of users.

  2. Nikhil said on April 29, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    I suspect the real reason for discontuing Opera Unite can be found in one of the videos explaining it back when Unite was launched. It was something that would give back to users control over their data – they would not need to give it to 3rd parties or to a cloud just for the sake of sharing it with people they know. With the recent furore over ACTA, CISPA, etc it’s clear that the big players on the web WANT everyone’s data in their servers. Unite was a major threat to their profits, and a major threat to monitoring capability of invasive governments as well.
    Opera was using its own servers to give a proper address to whatever a Unite user was hosting, to act as a bridge. But still that was a DNS redirect and the actual data would only be exchanged between the Unite user and his buddies.
    Something’s definitely fishy here.

    1. vapri said on April 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      There’s nothing fishy. Opera is a Norwegian company, so CISPA is irrelevant. In fact, Opera opposes CISPA.

      You are making up crazy conspiracy theories when the reason for ditching Unite is that it didn’t take off, and they want to focus more on extensions. And who knows, they may move Unite functionality over to extensions.

  3. Dan said on April 26, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Never used either one, and removing bloat is always a good thing. Now they should work on stability and better extension support.

  4. berttie said on April 25, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Bummer. Looks like I will have to retain a legacy copy of the current Opera version just to run a much used widget with a feature that I have not found in alternatives.

  5. smaragdus said on April 25, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    With every new release all browsers become more simplistic, plain and unhandy. Every good and useful feature is being killed. This trend was brought by Chrome, the worst browser ever, and all other copy-cat it.

  6. Crodol said on April 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Despite reading gHacks on a regular basis, Opera Unite has escaped me. Now that I read what it means I am actually regretting of not having it used. Sounds like a really interesting feature. I wonder if there will be an add-on either in Opera or Firefox to get the same functionality.

  7. Hafk said on April 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    I’ve always viewed Opera’s widgets as a misstep. I’ve been an Opera user since 8.5, and I have never used a widget for more than two minutes. If Opera 9 would have had extensions instead of widgets, I’d imagine their usage share would be much higher than it currently is. The lack of extensions was always the problem that made Opera a tough sell to Firefox users, and Opera really could have benefited from a higher market share before Chrome entered the market and started gaining massive traction.

    I don’t usually make bold claims like this, but Widgets are probably the reason why Opera is #5 instead of #4 or even #3 today.

    Opera Unite, on the other hand, actually had some great potential. I’ve used it a handful of time to quickly share files with friends, and it’s nice to not have to use a third party service like Dropbox to do that. If Opera would have given Unite a little bit more effort, it could have been more successful. Perhaps it would have thrived as a separate application entirely?

    1. simplyme said on October 2, 2012 at 3:06 am

      unite is the only reason i use opera, take it away and no more opera for me,

    2. Nelson said on August 11, 2012 at 12:02 am

      Opera Unite was great. Webserver and filesharing made very easy and practical. I am very very sorry to hear they canceled it. I was a happy Opera browser user simply because of that. Shutting it down without a replacement is a terrible move for users may (I certainly will) feel unsecure about the company from now on.

    3. vapri said on April 27, 2012 at 1:15 am

      “I don’t usually make bold claims like this, but Widgets are probably the reason why Opera is #5 instead of #4 or even #3 today.”

      That’s just crazy talk.

      Opera is actually #1 in some countries, but the reason it hasn’t made more of an impact in countries like the US is that it isn’t owned or promoted by a huge corporation. Even Firefox had that advantage (Google actively promoted it).

      It’s all about advertising and monopolies, and not widgets.

  8. Sid said on April 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    I think its a good move. Consolidating core functionality is always better rather than having a slew of ‘fringe benefits.’
    For users of these services, there is no option but to adjust.

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