Welcome to the eight edition of Opera Bytes – my semi-regular coloumn in which I focus on everything related to Opera. Let’s get started!
The wait is almost over. The long and extensive alpha and beta testing period has come to an end. Yesterday Opera released the RC (release candidate) build of Opera 10. The biggest change was the introduction of a new icon (designed by Oleg Melnychuk). It still looks shabby when compared to Firefox or even RockMeIt, but is definitely a huge improvement. There are other minor user interface tweaks including a better New Tab button. I had previously complained about the “New Tab” button looking like a brick left stranded in the middle of the road. That is no longer the case. In this release the New Tab Button nicely integrates with the Tab Previews. You can find the change log as well as download links here. The final version is slated to be released on September 1st.
You are probably aware of the antitrust complaint Opera filed against Microsoft in the EU (in case you aren’t check out my older coverage on this issue). Last month, Microsoft agreed to Opera’s proposal and offered to provide a ballot screen in Windows Seven (application only in Europe). In spite of Microsoft’s offer the controversy shows no signs of dying down.
In an interview given to The Register Opera’s CEO Jon V Tetzchner warned of “problems” if rival browsers didn’t get equal access to crucial sites that help keep users’ PCs secure and updated. Most of the people interpreted this as a new demand from Opera that would force Microsoft to distribute updates for other browsers through the Windows Update platform and led to another round of Opera bashing from Microsoft supporters/Opera haters. A careful analysis of the following statement however suggests otherwise.
I’m looking at the basics here, like being able to access the Microsoft network or the developer network, to access and get upgrades to the operating system. If they have sites and content out there you need to access to use the operating system in a meaningful way, and it’s web based and that doesn’t work – that’s a problem.
It seems all Jon wanted was to ensure that all Windows features including Windows Updates should continue to work even if Internet Explorer was not installed. This is hardly an unreasonable expectation, given that the basic objective of the antitrust complaint was to provide a level playing field.
Meanwhile, Mozilla is also not entirely happy with Microsoft’s proposal. In lengthy blog posts Mitchell Baker (chairwoman of Mozilla Foundation) and Harvey Anderson (Mozilla’s chief counsel)highlighted several areas of concern. While Mozilla in principle Mozilla agrees with Microsoft’s proposal they are worried about implementation details and weary that Microsoft will resort to backdoor tactics to convince users to install Internet Explorer.
Releasing a free mobile browser (Opera Mini) was one of the smartest things Opera ever did. Opera Mini took the mobile browsers market by storm soon after its release. In fact it is the most downloaded mobile application ever with over 25 million downloads according to Getjar (which is a leading mobile apps catalogue). Currently Opera Mini is the most popular Mobile browser in the world with 25% market share (according to Statcounter).