Opera (web browser)

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Opera
Developer(s)Opera Software
Initial release10 April 1995; 29 years ago (1995-04-10)[1]
Stable release
109.0.5097.35[2] Edit this on Wikidata / 28 March 2024; 17 days ago (28 March 2024)
Preview release
Opera beta

107.0.5045.11 (February 1, 2024; 2 months ago (2024-02-01)[3][4][5])

Opera developer
108.0.5063.0 (January 31, 2024; 2 months ago (2024-01-31)[6][7][8])
Written inC++[9]
EnginesBlink (formerly Presto), V8
Operating systemWindows 10 or later,[10] macOS, Linux, (Formerly FreeBSD, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo DS Lite)
Available in42 languages
TypeWeb browser
LicenseFreeware
WebsiteOpera.com

Opera is a multi-platform web browser developed by its namesake company Opera.[11][12][13] The current edition of the browser is based on Chromium. Opera is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS (Safari WebKit engine).[14][15] There are also mobile versions called Opera Mobile[16][17] and Opera Mini.[18][19] Opera users also have access to Opera News, a news app based on an AI platform.[20]

Opera was initially released on 10 April 1995, making it one of the oldest desktop web browsers still actively developed. It was commercial software for its first ten years and had its own proprietary layout engine, Presto. In 2013, it switched from the Presto engine to Chromium. In 2016, Opera, developed in Norway, became a subsidiary of an investment group led by a Chinese consortium.[21] In 2018, Opera Software went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange. By the end of 2022, the consortium sold all of its shares, and Opera in turn committed to repurchase all of its American Depository Shares to reestablish its corporate autonomy.[22][23]

The company released a gamer-oriented version of the browser, Opera GX, in 2019,[24] and a blockchain-focused Opera Crypto Browser into public beta in January 2022.[25] In April 2023, the company announced a major overhaul to the browser called Opera 100 and code-named "Opera One", adding a new user interface and several AI-related features. Opera 100 was released on June 20, 2023.[26]

History[edit]

In 1994, Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner and Geir Ivarsøy started developing the Opera web browser while working at Telenor, a Norwegian telecommunications company.[27][28]

In 1995, they founded Opera Software AS.[29] Opera was initially released on 10 April 1995, and then it was released publicly in 1996 with version 2.10,[30] which ran on Microsoft Windows 95.[31] Development for mobile device platforms started in 1998.[32]

Opera 4.0, released in 2000,[30] included a new cross-platform core that facilitated the creation of editions of Opera for multiple operating systems and platforms.[33]

To this point, Opera was trialware and had to be purchased after the trial period. With version 5.0, released in 2000, Opera became ad-sponsored, displaying ads to users who had not paid for it.[34] Subsequent versions have given users the choice of seeing banner ads or targeted text ads from Google.

With version 8.5, released in 2005, the ads were completely removed, and the browser's primary financial support came through revenue from Google (by contract, Opera's default search engine).[35]

Among new features introduced in version 9.1, released in 2006, was fraud protection using technology from GeoTrust, a digital certificate provider, and PhishTank, an organization that tracks known phishing web sites.[36] This feature was further expanded in version 9.5, when GeoTrust was replaced with Netcraft, and malware protection from Haute Secure was added.[37]

In 2006, Opera Software ASA was released as well as Nintendo DS Browser and Internet Channel for Nintendo's DS and Wii gaming systems, respectively, which were Opera-based browsers.[38][39][40][41]

A new JavaScript engine, called Carakan (after the Javanese alphabet), was introduced with version 10.50.[42] According to Opera Software, it made Opera 10.50 more than seven times faster in SunSpider than Opera 10.10.[43][44][45]

On 16 December 2010, Opera 11 was released, featuring extensions,[46] tab stacking (where dragging one tab over another allowed creating a group of tabs), visual mouse gestures and changes to the address bar.[47] Opera 12 was released on 14 June 2012.[48]

On 12 February 2013, Opera Software announced that it would drop its own Presto layout engine in favor of WebKit as implemented by Google's Chrome browser, using code from the Chromium project. Opera Software planned as well to contribute code to WebKit.[49] On 3 April 2013, Google announced it would fork components from WebKit to form a new layout engine, Blink. That day, Opera Software confirmed it would follow Google in implementing Blink.[50]

On 28 May 2013, a beta release of Opera 15 was made available,[51] the first version based on the Chromium project.[52][53] Many distinctive Opera features of the previous versions were dropped, and Opera Mail was separated into a standalone application derived from Opera 12.[54]

In 2016, Opera was acquired by an investment group led by a Chinese consortium.[55] On July 27, 2018, Opera Software went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange, raising $115 million in its initial public offering.[56] Opera began repurchasing its shares in 2022 following the closure of 360 Security Technology Inc. that year.[57][58]

In January 2017, the source code of Opera 12.15, one of the last few versions still based on the Presto layout engine, was leaked.[59]

To demonstrate how radically different a browser could look, Opera Neon, dubbed a "concept browser", was released in January 2017. PC World compared it to demo models that automakers and hardware vendors release to show their visions of the future. Instead of a Speed Dial Browsing feature it displays the frequently accessed websites in resemblance to a desktop with computer icons scattered over it in an artistic formation.[60][61]

On 10 May 2017, Opera 45 was released. Notably this was the last version of the browser compatible with 32-bit Linux distributions, with later versions requiring a 64-bit Linux distribution. This version, inspired by the previous Opera Neon design, was called “Opera Reborn” and which redoes parts of the user interface, such as adding light and dark modes, and integrates the messenger applications Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Telegram. Additionally, new ad-blocking settings were added along with security changes.[62]

On 4 January, 2018, Opera 50 was released. This version updated the browser to utilize the built-in ad blocker to provide cryptocurrency mining protection that stops sites from running scripts that attempt to use the CPU to mine cryptocurrency. Additionally the browser added Chromecast support, VR support enhancements, saving pages as PDFs, and improved VPN performance with region-based locations rather than country-based.[63]

On 9 April 2019, Opera 60 is released. This version, codenamed Reborn 3, focused on moving the browser towards a more minimal design, further improving the free VPN service, and updating from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 which allows for integration of blockchain and distributed systems, a more decentralized web that lets users communicate peer-to-peer much more securely than before.[64]

On 21 May 2019, Opera GX is announced and opened for early-access. The only information available in this announcement is that the browser would be a special version of the browser aimed at those who play games. The early-access program was opened on 11 June 2019.[65][66]

On 24 June 2021, Opera 77, codenamed Opera R5 was released. As one of the larger updates to the browser, it added more music streaming services in the sidebar, integrating native support for Apple Music, Spotify, Youtube Music, Tidal, Soundcloud, and Gaana. The “Pinboards” feature was also added, letting users create a shareable collection of websites, images, links, and notes in a visual form. A video popout feature was also added for video conferencing, which happens automatically when switching tabs, popping out of the window when navigating away and popping back in when navigating back.[67] Later, in Opera 83 released on 19 January 2022, this feature would be implemented for all video players, not just video conferencing platforms.[68]

On 31 Jan 2023, Opera announced that given the discontinuation of support for Windows 7 and 8.1 by Microsoft, Chromium based browsers are also ending support, so Opera will no longer get updates on those versions, but older versions will continue to function on those versions of Windows.[69]

22 March 2023, Opera browser and Opera GX incorporate features with AI-powered tools. These features include AI Prompts that are suggested to the user, and sidebar access to ChatGPT and ChatSonic. The prompts show up on sites that contain content like articles, offering to shorten the text or summarize them.[70]

On 20 June 2023, Opera launches Opera One, a version of the browser built from the ground up around AI which was unveiled on April 25, 2023. This browser includes a native AI called Aria, a GPT-based AI engine that was developed collaboratively with OpenAI that sifts through web information, generates text and code, and much more in the browser. Tab islands were also introduced, allowing browser tabs to be grouped together, bookmarked, collapsed, and more. Major UI changes were made, and a Multithreaded Compositor was introduced, allowing the browser to function and render in animations much smoother than it was previously capable.[71][72][73]

Features[edit]

Opera has originated features later adopted by other web browsers, including: Speed Dial, pop-up blocking, reopening recently closed pages, private browsing, and tabbed browsing.[74][75] Additional features include a built-in screenshot tool, Snapshot, which also includes an image-markup tool;[76] built-in ad blockers, and tracking blockers.[77]

Built-in messengers[edit]

Opera's desktop browser includes access to social media messaging apps WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and VK.[78][79]

Usability and accessibility[edit]

Opera includes a bookmarks bar and a download manager. It also has "Speed Dial" which allows the user to add an unlimited number of pages shown in thumbnail form in a page displayed when a new tab is opened.[74][75][80]

Opera was one of the first browsers to support Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in 1998.[81]

Opera Turbo, a feature that compresses requested web pages (except HTTPS pages) before sending them to the users,[82] is no longer available on the desktop browser. Opera Turbo is available in Opera Mini, the mobile browser.[83]

Privacy and security[edit]

One security feature is the option to delete private data, such as HTTP cookies, browsing history, items in cache and passwords with the click of a button.[84]

When visiting a site, Opera displays a security badge in the address bar which shows details about the website, including security certificates.[85] Opera's fraud and malware protection warns the user about suspicious web pages and is enabled by default. It checks the requested page against several databases of known phishing and malware websites, called blacklists.[85]

In 2016, a free virtual private network (VPN) service was implemented in the browser.[86] Opera said that this would allow encrypted access to websites otherwise blocked, and provide security on public WiFi networks.[87][88] It was later determined that the browser VPN operated as a web proxy rather than a VPN, meaning that it only secured connections made by the browser and not by any other apps on the computer.[89]

Crypto-wallet-support[edit]

In 2018, a built-in cryptocurrency wallet to the Opera Web Browser was released,[90] announcing that they would be the first browser with a built-in Crypto Wallet.[91] On 13 December 2018, Opera released a video showing many decentralized applications like Cryptokitties running on the Android version of the Opera Web Browser.[92]

In March 2020, Opera updated its Android browser to access crypto domains, making it the first browser to be able to support a domain name system (DNS) which is not part of the traditional DNS directly without the need of a plugin or add-on.[93] This was through a collaboration with a San Francisco based startup, Unstoppable Domains.[94][95]

In January 2022, Opera introduced Opera Crypto Browser into public beta, combining a non-custodial wallet with a dedicated browser for blockchain-enabled services and Web3 technologies.[96] On April 14 2022, Opera launched its Crypto Browser available on iOS devices.[97]

As of 2023, Opera Crypto Browser has been discontinued, with the browser's features being integrated into Opera and Opera GX.

AI chatbot[edit]

In 2023, Opera added an AI chatbot which it calls Aria, into the browser. This is powered by Opera's Composer AI engine and connects to OpenAI's GPT model.

Other versions[edit]

Opera GX[edit]

Opera GX
Developer(s)Opera Software Poland
Initial release11 June 2019; 4 years ago (2019-06-11)
Stable release(s)
Windows107.0.5045.60[98] Edit this on Wikidata / 6 March 2024; 39 days ago (6 March 2024)
Mac107.0.5045.60[98] Edit this on Wikidata / 6 March 2024; 39 days ago (6 March 2024)
Android2.3.9[99] Edit this on Wikidata / 7 March 2024; 38 days ago (7 March 2024)
iOS2.3.3[100] Edit this on Wikidata / 27 February 2024; 47 days ago (27 February 2024)
EnginesBlink, V8
Operating systemWindows 10 or later
macOS 10.13 or later
Android 9.0 or later
iOS 15.5 or later
TypeWeb browser
LicenseFreeware
Websitewww.opera.com/gx

Opera GX is a gaming-oriented variant of Opera. The browser was announced on 21 May 2019 and released in early access for Windows on 11 June 2019, during E3 2019. The macOS version was released in December of the same year.[101][102][103]

Opera GX adds features geared toward gamers and other audiences, with the regular Opera browser features included. The limiter allows users to limit network, CPU, and memory usage to preserve system resources. Using GX Cleaner, a tool that is said to allow users to clear cache, cookies, and other unwanted files et cetera. The browser also adds integrations with other apps such as Twitch, Discord, Twitter, and Instagram. The browser also has a built-in page called the GX Corner, which collates gaming-related releases, deals, and news articles.[104][105][106]

On 5 September 2019, Opera won a Red Dot award in the Interface and User Experience Design category for Opera GX. Around the same time, Opera GX also marks its first one million downloads.[107]

On 20 May 2021, Opera released a mobile version of Opera GX on iOS and Android.[108]

On 12 November of the same year, Opera GX Mobile was awarded a Red Dot award in both the Apps category and the Interface and User Experience Design: Mobile UIs category.[109]

On August 19, 2023, Opera introduced a VTuber mascot for the browser named GX Aura.[110][111]

On November 28 of the same year, Opera launched a new advertising campaign titled "Bury Boring", featuring actor and comedian Eric André smashing and burying computers not using Opera GX.[112][113] The advertising campaign also included a splash screen whenever the browser is launched during the campaign with slashing sounds and André yelling out the browser's name. While well received by many of its user base, many criticized Opera GX's actions. In the browser's subreddit, many users complained about the loud volume of the splash screen and that the splash screen could not be bypassed unless the execution file was deleted.[114][115][116][117]

Development-stages[edit]

Opera Software uses a release cycle consisting of three "streams", corresponding to phases of development, that can be downloaded and installed independently of each other: "developer", "beta", and "stable". New features are first introduced in the developer build, then, depending on user feedback, may progress to the beta version and eventually be released.[118]

The developer stream allows early testing of new features, mainly targeting developers, extension creators, and early adopters. Opera developer is not intended for everyday browsing as it is unstable and is prone to failure or crashing, but it enables advanced users to try out new features that are still under development, without affecting their normal installation of the browser. New versions of the browser are released frequently, generally a few times a week.[119]

The beta stream, formerly known as "Opera Next", is a feature complete package, allowing stability and quality to mature before the final release. A new version is released every couple of weeks.[120]

Both streams can be installed alongside the official release without interference. Each has a different icon to help the user distinguish between the variants. [121]

Market-adoption[edit]

Desktop/laptop/tablet browser statistics
Google Chrome
64.62%
Edge
12.03%
Safari
10.04%
Firefox
6.25%
Opera
3.03%
Android
1.02%
Desktop and tablet web browser market share according to Statcounter for March 2024[122]

Integrations[edit]

In 2005, Adobe Systems integrated Opera's rendering engine, Presto, into its Adobe Creative Suite applications. Opera technology was employed in Adobe GoLive, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Dreamweaver, and other components of the Adobe Creative Suite.[123][124] Opera's layout engine is also found in Virtual Mechanics SiteSpinner Pro.[125] The Internet Channel is a version of the Opera 9 web browser for use on the Nintendo Wii created by Opera Software and Nintendo.[126] Opera Software is also implemented in the Nintendo DS Browser and Nintendo DSi Browser for Nintendo's handheld systems.

Opera is the fifth most popular web-browser.[127][128] As of April 2021, Opera's offerings had over 320 million active users.[129]

Reception[edit]

The Opera browser has been listed as a "tried and tested direct alternative to Chrome".[130] It scores close to Chrome on the HTML5test, which scores browsers' compatibility with different web standards.[128]

Versions with the Presto layout engine have been positively reviewed,[131][132][133] although they have been criticized for website compatibility issues.[134][135] Because of this issue, Opera 8.01 and higher had included workarounds to help certain popular but problematic web sites display properly.[136][137]

Versions with the Blink layout engine have been criticized by some users for missing features such as UI customization, and for abandoning Opera Software's own Presto layout engine.[138][139][140][141] Despite that, versions with the Blink layout engine have been noted for being fast and stable, for handling the latest web standards and for having a better website compatibility and a modern-style user interface.[142][143][144]

See also[edit]

Opera browser platform variants:

Related other browsers:

Related topics:

References[edit]

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