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Washington Post: Opera difficult to decipher

December 18, 2005

From a review of the Firefox browser in today’s Washington Post edition:

“The Opera browser is a different case: It’s now free and runs faster and uses less memory than Firefox, but it’s also a bit more difficult to decipher.”

Rob Pegoraro, the reviewer (and Firefox user), fails to mention why Opera is difficult to decipher. Has he seen Opera 8?

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  1. December 18, 2005 at 3:13 pm

    Hmm, maybe a friend of his friend tried Opera back in 1999? 🙂

  2. December 18, 2005 at 4:02 pm

    Well, it is a Firefox review, rather than an Opera review. But if I were to guess, he might be referring to the fact that, when you compare the out-of-the-box UI, Firefox is more familiar to IE users than Opera.

    Of course, since he didn’t actually say what he meant, guessing is all any of us can do.

  3. Anonymous
    December 18, 2005 at 4:57 pm

    he means that opera’s buttons layout, functions are harder for the common net user to use and that opera is more of a geeky browser. although i am geek i prefer to stay with firefox.
    the only places in which opera wins against firefox are : opera loads faster and one can enable themes without restarting the app.
    ok so lets stop the wars which might take place soon !!!!!!!

  4. Anonymous
    December 18, 2005 at 5:10 pm

    If Opera is such a “geeky browser” and its features are so difficult to use, why does Firefox keep imitating it?

    Of course, the answer is that this is just a meme among Firefox users, who haven’t actually tried Opera.

  5. Anonymous
    December 18, 2005 at 5:18 pm

    Opera isn’t difficult to decipher–if you’re open-minded about things. The key is not expecting it to be a cookie-cutter-like IE-interface. The sooner this reporter realizes that, the sooner he’ll get accustumed to Opera (if he even used it in the first place!).

  6. Anonymous
    December 18, 2005 at 5:23 pm

    There’s a reason why Opera doesn’t try to imitate IE. Who wants to imitate a piece of junk? In my mind, the fact that Opera doesn’t look like IE really isn’t a bad thing. It actually shows that Opera is different, that it was based without being conformed to norms, that no one was thinking about IE when they created Opera, so that you don’t get brokenness and viruses.

  7. December 18, 2005 at 5:39 pm

    Rob Pegoraro has been running negative reviews of Opera since Spring 2004. He is stubborn about his bias, and as an out-and-out Firefox fan will slam Opera when he gets the chance as is the case today.

  8. December 18, 2005 at 8:11 pm

    I’ve met (mostly online) a lot of people who describe themselves as computer illiterate, but stil have had no problems switching from IE to Opera. Is it me that’s been lucky and met some people more intelligent than normal, so that they figure out a different layout quicker? I doubt it. Just intelligent enough to realise that IE and Opera are two different programs.

    Most of them (I think) are happy with using more or less the same features that are available in IE – that is, the back and forward button, stop/reload, bookmarks. Features that aren’t exactly hidden away, or drowning among other features.

    Some of them look a bit more closer at the other easily apparent features. The wand and the mouse gestures seem popular. And some of them are inspired by this new, different program, and want to see what it can offer. Even ask for help how to do things they’ve heard of is possible.

    Remember, I’m not talking about geeks here – but about people who themselves claim they don’t know much about computers.

    Now, the author of this review isn’t the first who have said things like this about Opera, and while we can wonder what he – or they – really know about Opera, I’m starting to wonder: What does these people have in common, that find Opera complicated?

    Come to think of it, I’ve often heard from some people that while they don’t have any problems with the browser themselves, they think Opera is too difficult for the “normal” user or novice. But I haven’t heard any such normal user or novice say Opera is too difficult for them… (Many have said they prefer either IE, FF or something else, but not because Opera was difficult.)

  9. December 18, 2005 at 8:24 pm

    People fear change; and – let’s be honest – the standard set of buttons in Opera’s out-of-the-box install is a tad strange. No home button, for example. If you’re savvy enough to actually learn a new interface, no trouble.

    If you’re a don’t-make-me-think IE user, you’re going to freak and go back to what you know. Because people don’t believe that poor security actually means *they* might have their credit card number stolen – that happens to other people.

    So all they care about is being made to think about downloading pr0n… I mean… doing serious research into their family tree. Sure, that’s it.

  10. Anonymous
    December 18, 2005 at 9:03 pm

    Of course Opera is more difficult to decipher: it has a lot more built into it. Firefox does fewer things and so almost can’t help but be simpler to use (as is IE), thus the basis for comparison.

    Why does every minor thing said about Opera have to be parsed as if it’s a stab to the heart? A persecution complex is not becoming.

  11. December 18, 2005 at 10:05 pm

    Ahh..not again!
    Remember the last review by washinton post?Well someone here had done a pretty much postmartem of it and prooved how stupid it was.
    Well this one is also same.The author is just a blind Firefox fan who thinks that whatever Firefox does is right.
    But, sadly these articles do affect public choice.

  12. December 19, 2005 at 12:27 am

    He just completly wrong about complexity of Opera. Interface of Opera 8 is clean and beautiful from first start!

    Opera UI:
    10 buttons
    2 fields
    6 top-level menu items
    48 second-level menu items

    Firefox UI:
    8 buttons
    2 fields
    7 top-level menu items
    52 second level menu items

  13. December 19, 2005 at 4:12 am

    I Have Opera, Netscape, Flock, IE and Firefox.

    I use FF Most and Opera least.

    FF IS easier to use and has a cleaner layout jeez your all fanboys…

  14. December 19, 2005 at 4:39 am

    I’ve been using both Opera and Firefox almost from the first public releases (yes, I’ve been around for a while).

    I prefer Opera, but I’ve always said that it isn’t for the average user. Use Opera if you want the control. It gives the user a lot of control and the user needs to take it. If you don’t want to have that kind of power, go back to MSIE.

    But since the Washington Post doesn’t elaborate, we can continue guessing for eternity. Who knows, maybe they’re trying to decompile the application? Maybe they’re appalled by the lack of XUL?

    For those of you who think Firefox is less configurable… type “about:config” in the address bar.

  15. Anonymous
    December 19, 2005 at 6:25 am

    It’s hard to decipher Opera, but “anybody can inspect and edit Firefox programming code”.

  16. Anonymous
    December 19, 2005 at 8:37 am

    I’ve always said: Opera IS for the Novice, and the less-savvy. It IS FLEXIBLE enough to be. It’s an etiquete, that the Mozilla folks are spreading! Please, stop spreading LIES about Opera… I know A LOT of novice(and not very tech savvy) Opera users, that use Opera on a DAILY basis. And they love it. They love the easyness, not the simplicity. They love the integrated e-mail option, andthe Wand. They like the fact that Opera is a COMPLETE package, and they do not have to struggle every time they want something out of the browser. A normal novice user wants a tool, that works right out of the box, not a set of building blocks!

  17. December 19, 2005 at 9:37 am

    Let me add some fuel to the fire:

    I have over and over again tried Opera, every time thinking “this time I really will give it a serious try”. Every time I have been brought down by some detail.

    The real stopper for me is that Opera doesn’t remember that I want it to hide the tab/page bar when only one tab is open.

  18. December 19, 2005 at 9:43 am


    You can easily hide the tab bar, if only one tab is opened.

    Right click on the tab bar, click ‘Customize…’, then make sure the ‘Show only when needed’ checkbox is checked.

  19. December 19, 2005 at 9:52 am

    I know. But Opera doesn’t remember that setting. Is this just my Opera?

  20. December 19, 2005 at 9:57 am


    I don’t use that setting, I like to see the tab bar all the time. My colleague at work uses it, and as far as I know, it works just fine.

  21. December 19, 2005 at 9:59 am

    Yeah, ok. Guess I’m just unlucky.

    (I have also tried with a clean profile.)

  22. Anonymous
    December 19, 2005 at 10:37 am

    David, just making sure that you know the benefit of having the tab bar. Middle clicking on empty space in the tab bar opens a new tab.

    About the article, I am sure this would not have prompted someone to say that Opera is hard to decipher but the menu bar at Washington Post’s website does not work in Opera.

  23. Anonymous
    December 19, 2005 at 11:03 am

    “Of course Opera is more difficult to decipher: it has a lot more built into it.”

    This is hardly a logical conclusion if you look at the facts. Opera might have more features, but they are all hidden by default anyway, so it doesn’t matter. Unless you want to start using those features, of course. Then they appear.

  24. December 19, 2005 at 11:04 am

    David, I use it from the time this feature was introduced, and it works 100% times fine.
    I can say which features in Opera havs glitches, but this one (show only when needed) works.

  25. December 19, 2005 at 2:12 pm

    Well, it must simply be something with my setup then.

  26. Unknown
    December 19, 2005 at 4:38 pm

    David, I’d say: 1. If the problem is, that the configuration is not retained after a restart of Opera, then: check whether you have write permissions to Opera files, and to exclude the Opera profile folder from scanningg by Anti-Virus software. 2. If it does not work completely, check if you are selecting the correct toolbar ie. you aren’t selecting a button instead. The whole toolbar shoud have a yellow outline if selected.

  27. December 20, 2005 at 5:45 pm

    Tried that. No good.

  28. January 7, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    I’ve been using Opera for a very long time; since version 3.1. Back then I had a 80386 and Opera worked fine. Internet Explorer was too heavy and slow.

    Last year I changed computer and downloaded Opera and Firefox. To my surprise, Firefox was easier to use and a lot faster. Later I downloaded Flock and found it faster than Firefox but lacking a speller and a good Bookmark Manager.

    So far, in my humble opinion, the best web browser around is Firefox, but Flock could be better if it had a speller and better Bookmarks.

    Just my two cents worth on Opera.


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