Earth to Opera... The Browser War is Over (and you lost)
Yesterday I came across a news item touting a new and improved version of the Opera browser. Apparently, it's even faster than Firefox! But does it really matter? Read on for my take on what's new in Opera, and why I think this announcement hit a sour note...
The Opera Browser is on v51 - Are You Kidding Me?
When I came upon the blog post (press release, actually) entitled, “Opera 51 comes with improved browsing speed,” my initial reaction was, “Why are people still developing browsers other than Google Chrome?”
I’m serious; I just don’t understand why highly-educated software engineers (the lowest-ranked of them saddled with mountains of student loan debt, no doubt) would be spending their time on the “also-ran” and “other” categories of the browser market share chart.
Just look at the chart below, which shows the worldwide browser market share (desktop and mobile) for the past year. Google Chrome commands 54.2% of all those screens. Firefox sits at 6%, and both Opera and Internet Explorer are mired at about 3.8% of the world browser market.
Opera has been stuck down there, below 4%, for aeons. It isn’t going up, and it hasn’t far to fall, especially in the U.S. I checked the Statcounter numbers for desktop browsers in the USA as of January 2018, which shows Chrome at 66% and Opera in use on only 2% of desktop computers.
Yet here is a blog post/press release of 965 words, 8 huge, lavishly detailed static images, and 2 sorta-cute animations touting Opera v51 as “38% better than Firefox” in the new (January, 2018) Speedometer 2.0 benchmark test. I ran my own test on a Dell Optiplex 3040, with an Intel i5 CPU and 12GB of RAM. Opera (with just one tab open) scored 75.0 and Chrome (with eleven open tabs) scored 73.2. Pretty much a draw, I'd say.
You can try Speedometer 2.0 yourself. But be warned: it’s going to take a while to run; you can cheat and continue browsing in other windows if you wish. In fact, I highly recommend doing that, because the incessant screen flashing is rather annoying.
Well, let’s see what else Opera v51 is better than. I searched the entire press release, and found that Opera v51 is better than Firefox and… pretty much nothing, according to the blog post. Here's are the new, exciting and useful features in Opera v51 that the other browsers don’t have.
Click the tab to scroll: “When you need to scroll to the top of a web page, simply click the page’s tab and the page will jump up to the beginning. Clicking the tab again will bring you back to where you were before, so you can continue reading or exploring content.” OK, that sounds useful and unique.
But it doesn’t work all the time, according to multiple commenters, e. g., “The “click the tab to scroll”-feature is very unreliable on many sites (e.g. on YT), esp. the “bring you back to where you were before”-option. Sometimes it works, sometimes not,” says a Windows 10 64-bit Opera v51 user. A followup comment says, “Confirmed. Same here with Opera Linux.”
Next “new” thing: “Import bookmarks added in bookmarks manager.” I had to check my calendar to see if I was still in the 21st century or had time-traveled backward.
A quick list of bullet points that Opera’s blog post felt were important; I’ll let you decide:
- Collapsible lists of opened and closed tabs in tabs menu
- Private mode style updated
- “Back to tab” button for video pop-out
- Allow all sites to use Flash (Please, do NOT do that!)
- Safely and easily reset browser settings (1998, IIRC)
- Preferences backup
- Desktop wallpaper in Opera
Under the Hood: Opéra Comique!
The very last paragraph of the blog post contains the punchline that sprained my funny bone: Opera 51 is powered by a fine-tuned version of Chromium 64.” Oh... My... Goodness…
According to Wikipedia: “Chromium is an open-source Web browser project started by Google, to provide the source code for the proprietary Google Chrome browser. The two browsers share the majority of code and features, though there are some minor differences in features and logos, and they have different licensing.”
A bit of searching refreshed my memory -- the Opera programming team abandoned it's own codebase back in 2013, and went with Google's Chromium. At the time, tech headlines were mostly along the lines of "Opera admits defeat." But I guess the Opera operators in Oslo (that's where the company is based) are not ready to disconnect the life support machine. Perhaps they should rename it Phoenix, and hope it rises from the ashes of the browser wars.
Now that I have kindled a nice roaring fire using Opera v51, I hope you readers will gather around with hot dogs, marshmallows, and long-handled forks. Your contributions to this campfire singalong are most welcome.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 12 Feb 2018
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Earth to Opera... The Browser War is Over (and you lost) (Posted: 12 Feb 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved