The Opera Web Browser

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Opera is the third most popular browser in use at the time of writing1, the latest versions comes with an e-mail client & a news reader; it is available for machines using MS Windows, BEOS, MAC OS, LINUX, Solaris, QNX, OS/2 and Symbian OS. It is almost unique these days in being a paid for browser unlike its free competition (although a ‘free’ advert supported mode is available for some of the operating systems supported). Opera also has an intensely loyal following2.

How, Where, Why ?

It all started back in 1994 when Jon S. von Tetzchner and Geir Ivarsøy were commissioned by Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor to develop a Web browser, in 1995 they left Telenor takeing the project with them & set up Opera Software ASA in Norway.

In 1996 the Opera 2.1 (the first public release) for MS Windows is made available as shareware over the internet, in 1998 Opera 3 is released going on to win several awards, work is also started on porting Opera to other Operating Systems.

By 1999 browsers that supported HTML 4 were becoming the norm & Opera which only supported up to HTML 3 was looking a bit tired but Opera came back with a bang 2000, first with Opera 4 and then with the advert supported Opera 5 which had over two million downloads in its first month of public release.

At the end of 2001 Opera 6 is released for MS Windows & LINUX.

Why is Opera Special ?

Its fast, the program is smaller & thus faster than its rivals, Opera has also always strived to 100% meet World Wide Web Consortium standards. It has excellent cookie management & is very customisable in look & feel. Its use of a Multi Document Interface3 makes ideal for h2g2 addicts. It is also available in over 25 languages from Afrikaans to Welsh. Version 6 also includes a handy pop-up killer to get rid of annoying adverts.

It also features

  • Mouse gestures: These are mouse generated shortcuts that lets you go ´back´ and ´forward´ from page to page by simply right-clicking and sliding left or right, or just open a new page by right-clicking and sliding down.
  • Continuity of Browsing: There are two ways to do this; either ´save windows´ before exiting or by specifying ´continue browsing where I left off last time´ in the Preferences menu of Opera.
  • Integrated Search Engine: Opera features an integrated search box, the default setting is ´Google´ but there is a wide choice of search engines that can specified.
  • Hotclick: This enables the user to find information related to research a certain paragraph or word with a one-two Hotclick. Just highlight the word or paragraph and right-click to translate it or find its specific meaning.
  • Keyboard shortcuts: These are simple keyboard commands for many routine browsing tasks.
  • Built in ICQ client: For those of us that like to chat while browsing.

What´s bad about it ?

Plug-ins, you know the type of thing, Macromedia Flash, QuickTime etc; Opera uses Netscape plug-ins BUT only a few plug-in suppliers support Opera so a lot of the time you have to manually install the plug-in (you can find instructions on how to do this for most popular plug-ins on the Opera web site).

It can also be quite fussy over badly written HTML/XHTML code, and if you opt for the free version you have to put up with a small but to some irritating advert in the top left corner of the browser.

Although it has excellent tools for filtering cookies once you have accepted a cookie, it can be difficult to get rid of. Unlike other browsers that store cookies as individual text files Opera stores all cookies in a singe file 4 but third party tools are available that give you access to this file in order to delete individual cookies.

The e-mail & newsreader sections of Opera are relatively new additions to the program & although they work well they do lack some of the more advanced features you would find in a standalone program.

Is Opera for you ?

For many Opera offers a quicker easier browsing experience BUT to install some of the plug-ins you may need, dose require a certain level of technical competence5. How ever when all is said & done it comes down to a simple question "do you want to try something a little different?"

Other Guide Entries that may be of intrest

A291016 Mozilla
1Use of Opera is much under reported as Opera lets the user choose whether it identifies itself as Opera or as Netscape or MS Internet Explorer when requesting data from an internet server.2Who keep in touch via the Opera news-groups.3Windows within windows.4cookies.dat in the main Opera folder on your hard drive.5The ability to read the notes on the Opera Help page & the ability to copy and paste files from on folder to another on your hard drive.

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