Home > Desktop > Universities and others benefit from Opera's paid support

Universities and others benefit from Opera's paid support

May 1, 2007

Last week I blogged about whether people still use Opera’s paid support for the desktop browser when there’s so much free help available in the Opera Forums.

Ben Buchanan, an Opera user, mentioned (in the comments) his experience on getting his university to install Opera on their computers in the student lab. “To get a new bit of software installed in a large scale computing environment, you have to prove that it can and will be supported.”

Here’s what Ben wrote (edited for clarity):

I used to work at a university and was successful in getting Opera installed in all the student computer lab machines (and made available to staff on request). To get a new piece of software installed in a large scale computing environment you have to prove that it can and will be supported.

At the time, Opera was free for universities but not the world; so there was a “priority support” deal that universities could sign up to. That, plus the bailout option of being able to buy support actually made the product more attractive to the execs making the decisions. Essentially, large organizations actually want to be able to pay for support – since they don’t want to rely on “goodwill” support like forums.

It’s a reasonable concern – the tech support crew doesn’t want to be lumped with an unsupported product and hundreds of students asking for help. They’ve got to be able to get support quickly if they need it.

The other big thing was Opera moving to an MSI installer – man did the techs grumble about the previous non-MSI version. Again, quite a reasonable issue, since MSI installers were infinitely easier for them to roll out.

Opera does offer paid support, which should, in theory, make it more attractive for large organizations to install rather than Firefox (which doesn’t offer any paid support).

Are you a student in school? Have you tried getting Opera installed on your school’s computers? Help others realize the Opera-browsing experience too!

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Categories: Desktop
  1. May 1, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    I remember when I was taking a series of Java programming classes at a college in Indianapolis, they allowed us to have the administrator password in order to install the software we needed to use for the classes. I was able to install whatever I wanted onto the computer I was using. The only down side was that they re-imaged the hard drives on all of the computers once a month, so everything got wiped out.

  2. serious
    May 2, 2007 at 12:52 am

    we have a HD-protection in school, so you can install essentially anything (as long as the antivir doesn’t block it), but C: will be reset with every restart. I’ve opera installed on the D:-drive, where students can store their stuff, as opera doesn’t need any registry entries etc. to run, so reseting windows doesn’t mind (I’m glad opera works that way)

  3. serious
    May 2, 2007 at 12:54 am

    PS: I don’t have Server 2003, but win xp x64 w. SP2 … crappy MS software 😉

  4. May 2, 2007 at 4:25 am

    I contacted the faculty IT crew at the computer science department of Utrecht Universtiry somewhere in 2003 or 2004 to ask them if they would install Opera in the student image. They wouldn’t, because at the time you either had to pay for Opera (which they wouldn’t for ‘just another browser’) or put up with ads. And there was some policy that prohibited adware in the student image. So I just installed it in my homedir. 🙂

    When Opera went free in 2005 (no fee, no ads) I contacted them again and pretty soon afterwards we had Opera on every machine. It wasn’t the default (IE and the Mozilla family were also installed), but at least everyone could check it out without having to install anything. Plus it saved my a couple of megabytes in my homedir. 🙂

  5. Lars
    May 2, 2007 at 7:58 am

    serious: XP x64 is based on Server 2003, so it has the same version number.

  6. May 2, 2007 at 9:40 am

    At school, we’re stuck with Internet Explorer 6, and it’s impossible to install something.

    I have to use Opera USB and some other portable versions of my favorites programs if I want to use them… But I’m size-limited with my 256mb USB key…

  7. Rhonnysparks
    May 2, 2007 at 10:27 am

    At my uni opera is preinstalled on the computers except it’s version 8.5 so I run the latest version from my home directory. I think if it wasn’t free, they wouldn’t have installed it seeing all the computers run debian and have open source software installed on them.

  8. May 2, 2007 at 11:23 am

    breun, that’s great! Is there an Opera icon on the desktop? Or is it just in the start menu?

  9. May 2, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Romain, have you tried speaking with the IT department?

  10. May 2, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    Daniel, my jealousy is overwhelming…

    I take it you are enjoying your internal build of Kestrel? 😉

  11. May 2, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    GT500, yeah… ***lots*** of rendering and bug fixes.

  12. Ryan
    May 2, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    They’ve already got Firefox installed on every computer here, and a ton of the sites we use on campus are only made to work with it and IE. The IT department is also a little slow here, so the chances of getting Opera installed seem slim. Now, in the civil/environmental engineering department on the other hand….

    (One of my professors is a huge computer nerd. 😛 )

  13. May 2, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    A lot of IT department sites at colleges and universities mention alternative software, but they often neglect Opera because they think it’s not free to download, or they mention Opera but say that it’s not free. If Opera fans could help us find and contact those departments to make sure they have the most up-to-date information about Opera, that could make a big impact.

  14. May 2, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Daniel: The IT department? Huhu… If only we have something like that here…

    All that we have is people that can almost use Word and Excel…

  15. May 2, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    @Daniel: I should also mention that Opera’s accessibility features were a key selling point to justify adding another application to the labs. Computer lab software images are always crammed with tons of stuff, so naturally everything has to fight for its place.

    We were recommending Opera to students who needed to customise their browser (eg. low vision, colour blindness, etc) so it was a logical progression to add it to the student labs.

    I’m starting to think I should write up the full experience and post it 😉

    @Lawmune: actually I think you’ve hit on a great point there, I found that people kept thinking Opera still wasn’t free. In fact just a few days ago I had a web developer ask me when Opera was going to “go free”!

  16. WildEnte
    May 2, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    I guess Opera shouldn’t rely on single students asking their IT department. That may work at some few universities, where some guy in the IT department also likes Opera and can use that student to say “see, it’s being requested”. I believe that most IT guys will say “weirdo geek kid” or “why, that’s additional work, and firefox works just fine and is not IE either”.

    The point is really as you state in your own blog post: Opera needs to make it worthwhile for Universities to favour Opera over other free alternatives. Offering paid support is good, but then again, there is with 99% certainty at least one guy in an IT department of more than 5 people that knows his ways in the fox – so why pay for something else? Apart from support, there must be other services from Opera for institutions in order to make Opera become interesting to them.

    All IT departments I have dealt with so far were going only as far as to unblock Opera from university websites.

  17. May 2, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    I’ve installed Opera on half of the computers at my school. Last week a new computer was added to the computer lab because a teacher was upgrading. It had Mozilla 1.5 installed and Opera 7.23, with a fat Google banner ad at the top of the browser. The GUI was totally different. The back and forward buttons were a different style, the sidebar was different…. It took me a minute to find the Preferences menu, as it was under File. The Appearance menu was under View… it was SO weird.

    Opera’s really changed a lot over time. I became a new member when Opera was in 7.5. It just seemed like a little piece of history looking back to that.

    I upgraded the machine to 9.2 today.

  18. May 3, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    I dont know that in my university(BME) why use IE7 and Firefox 😦

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