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Archive for June, 2006

Opera 9 wins eWeek Labs Analyst's Choice award

June 30, 2006 7 comments

eWeek award the Opera 9 browser with the eWeek Labs Analyst’s Choice award, saying “we found Opera 9 to be one of the best Web browsing tools we’ve used in a long time, which is why we are giving Opera 9 an eWeek Labs Analyst’s Choice award”.

eWeek’s lab director Jim Rapoza wrote a very positive review of Opera 9. Jim also recorded a podcast with eWeek’s Peter Coffee where he discussed the new Opera 9.

I spoke with Jim Rapoza about Opera 9, below is the transcript.

Daniel Goldman: How long ago did you start using Opera?

Jim Rapoza: It was quite a while ago. Late 1990’s I think. I’ve been reviewing browsers for eWeek/PC Week since the early 90’s when I did reviews of Mosaic and Spyglass.

Daniel Goldman: Have you been using the Opera browser as your main browser all this time?

Jim Rapoza: As a browser reviewer I try to regularly use all the browsers, so I rotate through a set of them on a regular basis and Opera has always been in that rotation.

Daniel Goldman: What do you like most about Opera 9 (and Opera in general)?

Jim Rapoza: As I said in my review, I really liked the function to add any search engine. I actually did call another Labs analyst over to look at it. I’ve been expecting to see that ease of adding any search engine for a long time and this was the first time I’d seen it done so well.

Daniel Goldman: Opera has been around for close to 11 years, and has been very innovative over that time, yet Opera hasn’t had much success with its market share. Why is that?

Jim Rapoza: I think in the early days it was the fact that you had to pay for it. And the move to the integrated advertising didn’t help much either.

Daniel Goldman: If you were to give Opera advice on how to grow its market share, what would it be?

Jim Rapoza: I’m not a marketing expert so I’m not sure there but it looks like they’re doing all the right things community-wise. On the technology side I think Opera 9 is a good step as its one of the cleanest implementations of Opera in a while. Some of the previous versions were a litle cluttered and complicated by default at launch and while they could be configured to be less so, I think that kind of complexity turned off some trial users.

Daniel Goldman: Where do you see Opera in 1-2 years from now?

Jim Rapoza: It’s a tough question but I think they can definitely see some good improvement in their market share. The browser runs great on multiple platforms and since IE 7 will only be for XP Sp2 and Vista, there will be some opportunity to gain ground with users who aren’t upgrading Windows.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Why Widgets in the Opera Browser?

June 29, 2006 75 comments

Editor’s note: Thomas Ford is the Public Relations Manager for the desktop browser at Opera Software.

When we introduced Opera widgets in Opera 9, many people raised some very good questions about them. What are they? What does Opera see in them?

First, widgets are a first step towards Web applications in the browser. A widget is essentially a Web page with no browser chrome. If you know how to build a Web page, you will have a good idea of how to build a widget – they rely on standard Web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

To explain why widgets are so important to Opera, I need to begin with how we view the Web itself. We look at the Web as a progression of technologies that evolves organically over time as new technologies are introduced. Technologies like AJAX have transformed the Web from a static content source into a dynamic applications, and those Web-based applications create new ways for users to access, share and shape content.

That’s all well and good, but the other beauty of Web applications is that they can tie content together and merge it with other Web services for convenience, ease of use or greater functionality. When Opera started eleven years ago, our browser was meant to be a perfect window into the multimedia Web – a world filled with rich video, images and content. But now we can redefine the browser. Rather than being a window into a largely unchanging world, Opera 9 is also a launching platform for applications.

Widgets are the first step, but certainly not the last or the only. Right now we’ve got a lot of feed readers and search widgets, but it’s easy to picture the day when these are full-featured Web versions of existing desktop applications. When that day comes, the traditional role of the desktop operating system will diminish. Eventually all of the applications you currently use – word processors, games, even graphics applications – can and will run from the browser. And you won’t have to visit a Web page because it can live as a separate application outside the browser.

But these innovations won’t happen if only Opera drives it. It’s going to take a lot of great creative thinking from developers. They will help define how these applications will evolve and explore what the potential is.

To help encourage developers, we’ve launched two competitions: a My Opera widget competition for developers and the Widget World Cup. The former is a chance for developers to win a MacBook Pro as well as weekly prizes from ThinkGeek for the best written widget. The latter is a fantastic way to get people using widgets and finding out how cool/fascinating/addictive they can be. Developers of the most downloaded widget from each country will win €1,000. Then each country’s winner will face off to find the most downloaded widget. The ultimate widget will win €2,000. We hope that these competitions will attract skilled Web designers and developers from all over. After all, it only takes a few hours to make a widget.

I hope this clarifies a few questions about widgets. I’ll be happy to answer any other widget questions that get posted.

Categories: Desktop, Opera Widgets

Slashdot interviews Håkon Wium Lie, Opera CTO and Father of CSS

June 23, 2006 1 comment

Slashdot is running an interview today with Opera’s CTO Håkon Wium Lie. In addition to serving as Opera’s Chief Technical Officer, Håkon is also the father of cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

In 1994 Hakon proposed the concept of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) that has truly shaped the way we all view the Web. He also spent some time working for the guy who invented the web.

Known for his strong standards advocacy, a little over a year ago, Hakon proposed the Acid2 test, which was written to help browser vendors ensure proper support for web standards in their products. More recently Hakon defended his PhD thesis.

Not long ago, we here at Opera Watch also interviewed Håkon.

Categories: Interviews

New Opera 9 'exploit' un-exploitable, according to Opera

June 23, 2006 7 comments

It didn’t take long for a public ‘exploit’ of the new browser, Opera 9, to be made public.

The exploit, or rather a proof of concept, was discovered by researcher Povilas Tumėnas, and posted online the day after Opera 9 was released. According to the researcher the ‘exploit’ can be used to create an out-of-bounds memory access.

I’ve seen and tested this ‘exploit’. The browser crashes when a page containing the ‘exploit’ is loaded.

Opera has already analyzed it, an Opera official told Opera Watch. “It is absolutely un-exploitable.”

“The reporters didn’t bother contacting us first to discuss it (which is standard practice for security researchers) or we could have informed them that Opera crashes reading memory, not writing, and thus it’s guaranteed to be a harmless crash.”

This problem still exists with the new Opera 9.01 weekly build that was released today. I’ve been told that it will be fixed in an upcoming browser update.

Categories: Desktop, Security

The new Opera slogan: your web, your choice

June 22, 2006 9 comments

With the release of Opera 9, Opera introduced a new slogan as part of their marketing campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the choices available with browsing the web.

The new slogan, “your web, your choice” is clearly aimed at Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which comes bundled with the Windows OS.

Opera has had a renewed focus on its desktop browser. Starting with having a launch party for the desktop browser in Microsoft’s own backyard, which company officials tell me was no coincidence. (Photos of the Opera 9 launch event available here).

Categories: Marketing

What people are saying about Opera 9 (Part 1)

June 22, 2006 22 comments

There have been lots of positive coverage and reviews of Opera 9.

I compiled some of what the media, blogger, and others have been saying about Opera 9.
If you’d like me to include your opinion of Opera 9 in part 2 of this series, write about it on your site and send me an email (and of course link to Opera Watch).

eWeek
In an eWeek article titled “Opera 9 Is Music to eWEEK Labs’ Ears” by Jim Rapoza, Opera 9 received high marks for its innovation. Opera 9 received the eWEEK Labs Analyst’s Choice award.

“It’s a good bet that if you want to see the features that other Web browsers will be adding in a year or two, you should download Opera 9”, says eWeek.

“In our tests, we found Opera 9 to be one of the best Web browsing tools we’ve used in a long time, which is why we are giving Opera 9 an eWEEK Labs Analyst’s Choice award.”

David Chartier / TUAW:
“This version definitely seems snappier now that it’s Universal, and (say what you have to) these new enhancements like a built-in BitTorrent client show that Opera is blazing a trail faster than its competition. Give this version a whirl if you haven’t touched Opera in a while but are still curious about it.”

Walt Zwirko / WFAA-TV:
“This week, there emerged another challenger: the new version of Opera.” “The current editions of Opera and Firefox are polished and have real benefits for heavy ‘Net users. Do yourself a favor and try one/or both!”

Peter Sbarski / The Inquirer:
“My initial impression is that Opera 9 is a pretty damn excellent browser. It is extremely quick and stable. It works properly with all my favourite websites. It has all the necessities web surfers need such as a popup blocker and form auto-completion.”

Gordon Kelly / Trusted Reviews:
Opera 9 is the most comprehensive version of the software yet with the introduction of OS X Tiger-esque open source ‘Widgets’, inbuilt Bittorent support, a ‘Content Blocker’ to knock out ads and flash banners, rich text editing and Firefox style customizable search engines.

Brian Osborne / Geek.com:
I think Opera Software gets it: a truly open Web browser is one that is accessible to the masses. By offering the browser for a number of platforms and in 25 languages, it seems Opera Software shares this belief.

Ed Sutherland / InternetNews.com:
“Opera 9 Browser Provides a Little Drama”

David A. Utter / Web Pro News:
“Using Opera also allows the user to chuckle heartily at IE security alerts.” “Opera definitely merits attention from Internet users.”

Justin Mann / TechSpot.com:
“Opera tends to be a quick, feature-rich browser that’s definitely worth looking at, and the fact it is cross-platform makes it great for people who don’t like to switch standards.”

Paul Hosking / IT Wire:
“Opera is the shining beacon of diversity.”

Simon Willison:
“It’s an impressive package – it’s fast, it renders every page I’ve throw at it so far, it passes Acid 2, supports Canvas and SVG and has a neat widgets implementation.”

Simon Fodden:
“Give this thing a try; it’s fast and loaded with features that would make your browsing life easier”

Adam Fields:
“It’s fast, it’s smooth, standards support is better, they made some usability fixes, and it’s pleasant.”

George Burnett:
“All in all this has been a great new release and has provided enough new features and functionality to actually lure me away from Firefox and all of my extensions. Opera 9 seems to run faster and include all the functionality I use in Firefox by default.”

Ah Knight:
“Its still the fastest browser”

Gomeler.com:
“Now that I have Firefox, Flock, and Opera to choose from for browsers, I am beginning to notice that I spend more time with Opera and Flock. I guess now Firefox just hasn’t got all the features I expect from a browser.”

Categories: Desktop, Editorial

An interview with Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner

June 22, 2006 16 comments

Yesterday I had a chance to sit down and talk with Jon von Tetzchner, Opera’s founder and CEO.

We discussed many topics over our 45 minutes that we talked. I only have the first 30 minutes of the interview recorded. Jon was so excited about the release of Opera 9, he started talking about it before I even had a chance to hit the ‘record’ button and continued talking with me even after I shut off the voice recorder.

The interview was conducted at a café, so some parts of the recording have a bit of background noise (mostly in the beginning).

We touched on many subjects in the interview, here are some of them:

  • We talked a lot about widgets, whether they’re comparable to Firefox’s extensions, why hasn’t Opera included extensions, will Opera include extensions in the future, and whether the lack of extensions in the Opera browser has hurt Opera.
  • Looking back what could Opera have done differently which would have resulted to in a bigger market share today.
  • We discussed how important market share is for Opera and a realistic goal of Opera’s market share in a couple years.
  • Should Opera have removed the ads in the browser earlier? Were the ads a mistake?
  • What is Opera doing wrong? And what is Firefox doing right?
  • What Opera has learned from Firefox?
  • How to deal with sites that don’t work in Opera?
  • Why standards are so important for Opera, if many sites don’t even follow them?
  • Is Opera satisfied with the progress of Internet Explorer (IE) 7? And what would he tell Bill Gates if he were to meet him?
  • We talked about whether the mobile market is more important to Opera than the desktop browser.
  • Opera’s market share of the mobile browser.
  • The success of Opera Mini and its future growth.
  • Untapped markets for Opera.
  • Which of Opera’s browsers are most profitable?
  • Is Google causing nightmares for Opera when it releases products and services that aren’t compatible with the Opera browser?
  • Is Opera worried about a Google browser?
  • And much much more.

Thanks to Jon for taking his time to talk with me. I know he had a very busy day, shortly after we spoke he did an hours long radio show and then flew to San Francisco.

I went out to dinner with Jon (and some of the other Opera folks) the night before the event. It was my first time meeting him, and I was very impressed by his focus and true determination to make both websites and browsers standard-compliant.

Jon had some nice words to say about Opera Watch, he even invited me to visit Opera in Norway.

Listen to the interview (mp3 format – 15.9 MB)

Categories: Interviews