The Evangelist

Worldwide Technology News

In the so-called browser war, we are always hearing of the battle between Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox. Alone, IE version 5, 6 or 7 has less marketshare than Firefox. Together, they have about 50.6% of the browser marketshare according to w3schools, while Firefox only has 43.7%. Apple's Safari browser has 2.6 percent of the marketshare. Opera, on the other hand, only has 2.1% of the marketshare.

Opera is a fast and memory-efficient web browser with many innovative features that gets far less attention than it deserves. Being a user of Firefox myself, I can say that Opera has features that even Firefox doesn't have (while conversely Firefox has some features that Opera lacks, such as find as you type).

Quick Find is a nifty feature that allows you to search the content of sites you have visited in the past to help find something on a page even if you forgot which website it was at. With Opera Link through the My Opera Service, everything gets synchronized across Opera browsers over multiple PCs, allowing you to keep your bookmarks and settings no matter which computer you are on. Speed Dial, which is much like the speed dial feature on a phone, brings up a list of up to 9 user-defined websites instead of about_blank when a new tab is opened. Mouse gestures are an alternative to clicking buttons in the browser or using key commands, which can be useful for some users who like to use the mouse. The download manager is comparable to the one in Firefox 3, plus it has Bittorrent capability, a big plus. The browser also has widget capabilities as well as a jumble of other features that I won't mention here because both Firefox and IE7 already have them.

What is also interesting is that Opera is working on a set of developer tools for creating websites and web applications known as Opera Dragonfly. This is an interesting move for Opera to release a set of tools for developing web pages and then make sure they are compatible with the browser. While other companies have made similar moves, they have never to my knowledge taken it this far.

Overall, my experience with Opera has been a good one. The browser behaves as one would expect it to for the most part, and it has some great features. While many of these can be attained in Firefox through other means including add-ons, Opera has really gone far to make an original browser, and has really come far from earlier versions.


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