Earth to Opera... The Browser War is Over (and you lost)

Category: Browsers

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 is Dying

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.

Browser market share - Jan 2018

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.[5] 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.

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Most recent comments on "Earth to Opera... The Browser War is Over (and you lost)"

(See all 65 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Lady Fitzgerald
13 Feb 2018

@John Vaeth Using the apostrophe in the possessive "its" is an easy mistake to make. I know darned well it's not supposed to be there yet I habitually wind up putting it in there anyway and have to go back and take it out (and I don't always catch myself, either, as is evident in my other post in this thread).

Posted by:

Marc de Piolenc
13 Feb 2018

It's about choice, Bob. Just because the majority are swarming in one direction doesn't mean that browser is for me. I use Firefox, because it does work for me. I use Chrome or Internet Exploiter when I run into an "optimized" site that basically only allows that browser to render it.

Posted by:

13 Feb 2018

I play an on-line game @ It says that chrome is the preferred Browser. HOWEVER, OPERA seems to have less issues, and YES OPERA is a CHROME based Browser.

Posted by:

13 Feb 2018

I have installed many browsers and surf randomly on all of them. Just to be sure that google and microsoft and other have problems in tracking me.

Posted by:

Robert Beveridge
13 Feb 2018

I have also tried several different browsers and most have some good points but I always return to Chrome, because it works well for me :-) If Chrome actually snoops I'd like to see some real proof, anyway I have nothing to hide I don't visit dark webs (whatever they are) I just use my PC for pleasure and for searching, I do think users should have another browser for emergencies if the favourite goes down, at the moment mine is Epic

Posted by:

Eli Marcus
13 Feb 2018

I have been pretty loyal to Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox/Thunderbird since I first logged on to the internet in 1997.
I never could stand using MS IE, but I don't mind using Chrome some of the time, but I absolutely cannot stand being "bullied" and pushed by a monopoly into using a single browser or operating system or document authoring system as Google and Microsoft often do. I enjoy having the freedom of choice in browsers, and have used Opera off and on for at least 10 years.It's good to have alternatives for technical reasons too - a recent bug I had in Chrome, caused a potential security breach in my office computer, and forced me to go to another browser - so I have been using Opera as my default in the last 6 months. Handling of popups and spam also differs completely from browser to browser, and certain sites simply don't behave properly in Chrome or MS IE. I have also been using the new Brave browser recently when I want to reduce the usual security/popup/spam problems. In addition, as a regular Linux user, I have never minded being in the minority share of computer users, and sometimes, as with Linux, the minority grows to become a more significant force in the computing world.

Posted by:

13 Feb 2018

I have been using AOL for my main browser for a long time now. Currently, AOL Desktop Gold is what I use most of the time. I find that their email program is the most intuitive to use over other browsers. I recently also changed to Windows 10 when my computer service facility cleaned and reloaded my computer and upgraded it from Windows 7 to Windows 10. It's faster now.

Posted by:

13 Feb 2018

Running Win 7 Professional.
First some background: I had been using Chrome for years. One day it crashed for no reason. Well, no problem, I'll just re-install. A few days and crash #2. This time it took everything with it, including all my bookmarks and my history (which I keep for a while). Gone for good. Chrome will no longer install itself on my PC, regardless of how I try. Tell the truth, I don't really want it now.

Enter Opera. Worked great-for a while. I knew that not all websites display properly on it, but they were few and not a bother. Now the latest Opera arbitrarily discards whatever Opera theme I choose, reverting to one of their default abstracts (and eye straining) colors. Seems nobody can figure out why it is doing this. Just about had it with Opera as well. Guess it's back to Firefox and I'm not thrilled about that. I gave Opera a real fighting chance and it failed miserably.

Posted by:

13 Feb 2018

Don't like Google or Chrome. Too pervasive, intrusive and downright nosy. Chrome's interface is not intuitive. As a capitalist, I'm for competition in the marketplace. No one working on/for Opera HAS to be there, so it must not be that bad. I remember when NetScape was the "de facto" standard of browsers. Everything comes and goes. I love choices!

Posted by:

Steve Laubach
13 Feb 2018

I've been using/working on PC's since the mid 80's. I've used many different browsers and found they all have some redeeming quality. The #1 reason I sometimes use Opera is the built in VPN. It seems to have little impact on page loads and most pages appear to look as they should. No other browser I am aware of has built in VPN.

Thanks Bob for you thoughtful insights over the years. I appreciate your efforts.

Posted by:

13 Feb 2018

I use Firefox mostly. I refuse to use IE. But keep in mind that MS will not update unless I use IE. It will not download updates if I go to MS site directly using Firfox. Clicking on Windows Updates will use IE. And even though I have Firefox as my default browser, many programs will use IE when clicking on their update tabs.
I don't like the way Chrome displays bookmarks. I have it on my computer and use it very little.
I used Opera for a time when some of my favorite websites would not open in Firefox if I wanted to open multiple sites. Have been thinking of tyrying it again.

Posted by:

James Wray
14 Feb 2018

I've tried the Opera browser in the past and never got it to work right. I 7se Google Chrome for most everything I do on the computer.

Posted by:

14 Feb 2018

I stopped using Chrome several years ago simply because EVERYTHING I did was tracked and I got more intrusive junk than my poor brain could cope with. I'd be interested to know where you get your stats and information, too, because nobody I know uses Chrome, simply because they don't trust Google. I have used Opera, and Vivaldi, and both have their limitations, but at least I don't get bombarded with unwanted ads. Firefox, despite its limitations, does seem to have the user's safety at heart, so it's my browser of choice and will remain so.
Looking at your list of 'related articles' it seems that your basic premise is: 'Google is great, they can do no wrong, and everything else is rubbish.' I used to think that you had a sound and unbiased outlook on computer related matters; now I'm not so sure. You might just have lost a long-time subscriber over this article alone.

Posted by:

14 Feb 2018

I have started using the Torch browser because it has a download button that, without further action, will download whatever video is playing on your screen at the time and also a separate file containing only the sound portion of the video (e.g., if you only want the music). I have Opera on both my laptop and my desktop because of its built-in free (although limited capacity) VPN. So if I am using public Wi-Fi, I use Opera with its VPN. I use Opera's VPN on my desktop when I am trying to access a BBC program that the BBC will not allow access to by computers located outside of Britain.

Posted by:

14 Feb 2018

I avoid anything and everything having to do with Google. Everyone knows the CIA and NSA connection to Google. Any tin foil hat comments will be deleted but go ahead anyway. I like anonymity - that's why I don't have (have no use for) a faceplant account.

Posted by:

15 Feb 2018

IMO The best browser to use with Windows 10 is Microsoft Edge. I know, I know, I know it's Microsoft. So?

Posted by:

15 Feb 2018


Posted by:

17 Feb 2018

I actually like using Opera, been using it since 2007

Posted by:

19 Feb 2018

I've been using IE, Firefox and Opera for many years with no issues. Tried chrome a few times and didn't like it! ymmv

Posted by:

15 Jan 2019

I like the built-in opera pdf "printer" -- it has a good preview mode.
Opera also has several extensions I like to use: youtube downloaders and pocket.
Early versions of opera work well with under-powered computers running w2k.
Their new page "speed dial" can be customized to be useful.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Earth to Opera... The Browser War is Over (and you lost) (Posted: 12 Feb 2018)
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