Category Archives: Opera

Opera 11.01 Released, Fixes Critical Security Vulnerability

Opera Opera’s customary point release to tidy things up is here. Opera 11.01, which was released earlier today, includes critical security patches, much needed stability updates, and a few other minor changes.

This build closes the security hole discovered by Vupen that could allow hackers to gain control of a user’s system. Another critical vulnerability that could be exploited to load files (with potentially confidential information) from the user’s computer as web page resources has also been patched. The security fixes in Opera 11.01 affect Windows, UNIX as well as Mac.

One of the major new features introduced in Opera 11 was visual mouse gestures. While the idea behind the feature is excellent, Opera tweaked the mouse gesture sensitivity to accommodate users unfamiliar with gestures, which peeved several experienced users. Opera 11.01 restores the old sensitivity settings for mouse gestures, while retaining the intuitiveness of visual gestures.

The nagging crashes that plagued Opera 11 also seem to have disappeared in this version. There are dozens of other minor improvements. For a detailed overview of what is new in Opera 11.01 check out the change logs for Windows, UNIX, and Mac.

[ Download Opera 11.01 for Windows, UNIX and Mac ]

Opera’s Co-Founder on Extensions, Competition, Web TVs and More

2010 has been a great year for Opera Software. Earlier in the year, we saw Opera Mini for iPhone dominating the App Store charts soon after its release. Opera also expanded to the Android platform and launched Opera Mini followed by Opera Mobile in the Market. On the desktop front, Opera kicked off the year with the launch of Opera 10.5 and finished it off with Opera 11.

Opera Software was formally founded in 1995 by Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner and Geir Ivarsøy. After nearly 15 years at the helm, Tetzchner stepped down as the CEO of the company earlier this year. Recently, Tetzchner was in India to meet with the fans. During his visit, he was kind enough to answer my questions in an email interview.

Interview-Jon-Tetzchner

Me: While I am absolutely thrilled with extensions for Opera 11, I have to ask: What took Opera so long? Did Chrome’s success influence Opera’s decision to implement extensions in anyway?

JVT: When it comes to extensions we believe as a company that it is important to ensure that the browser that you get out of the box is rich and has a lot of functionality. With focus on web based extensions we feel that there is a closer match with our focus on standards, and we felt the time was right to launch extensions with Opera 11. We have also focused on features such as widgets and unite – which allow developers to develop on the outside of the browser, which we have found to be important for sustainability of the web as we know it.

Me: Are you using any extension? If yes, what is your favorite extension?

JVT: Personally I am not using a lot of extensions, I have tried a number of them but for the most part I feel my needs are covered with all the other functionalities that Opera has to offer.

It has to be said that extensions are about the long tail that people need.

Me: In spite of being (arguably) the most innovative browser, Opera has had little success in expanding its desktop marketshare. Currently about fifty million people browse using Opera on their computer and this number has remained stagnant for a while. In fact, the Q3 2010 report suggests that Opera lost some users during this year. Why do you think that Opera is struggling to get a significant number of new users?

JVT: Opera during the last few years has had a significant growth in number of users. We now have over 150 million users worldwide across our desktop and mobile browsers. The growth in past one year is very promising and we hope to continue this trend by coming-up with innovative features and products.

Me: If you were asked to use any browser other than Opera for 24 hours, which browser would you pick and why?

JVT: There can only be one browser for me i.e. the Opera browser

Jon-Tetzchner Me: Do you subscribe to the notion that in the future the browser will make operating systems irrelevant?

JVT: I would not say irrelevant the operating system continues to be important.

I always ask a question during my talks how many native applications are you using on your PC?. The fact that typically 5% or less are using 5 applications or more indicates that already the browser is the most important tool on your computer and most of the time is spent in the browser. We are seeing that the browser has become the most important aspect of the computing experience.

Me: Earlier in the year, the browser ballot screen went live in Europe. After nine months, have you noticed appreciable changes in the browser usage patterns in Europe?

JVT: Clearly what we have seen is a continuous fall in the number of Internet Explorer users and users have increased for competing browsers including Opera.

Me: One of the things Opera complained about is Microsoft’s reluctance to support web standards. What is your impression of Internet Explorer 9? Do you think Microsoft has made amends?

JVT: We are seeing Microsoft working hard on improving their standards support and we applaud that. They are still trailing the competition but are moving in the right direction.

Me: In 2004, Opera extracted a settlement out of Microsoft for deliberately crippling MSN on Opera. Unfortunately, the practice persists till date with the big three (Google, Microsoft and Yahoo) often using browser sniffing to offer an inferior version of their products to Opera users. Why do you think this is the case?

JVT: First thing on the settlement there was no settlement. Microsoft fixed their site. This is where we had the Bork edition of Opera and we got them to fix their site.

I think browser sniffing is a bad thing in general. But we are also seeing that more of the sites are focusing on web standards and that will continue.

Me: Your vision of One Webhas won. WAP is dead, and mobile web usage is exploding. What’s next for mobile web?

JVT: Exploding some more.

I think in many ways there are so many people who do not have Internet access today. There are two billion people with internet access and there are one and half billion phones. The trend that we will see is that mobile users will most likely outnumber PC users in a year’s time. This will have a significant impact on the web as we know it and a very positive one.

Going ahead, please look out for Televisions, Set top boxes, cars and other devices getting online as well.

Me: The Register claimed that Opera holds the web’s most valuable secretthanks to its massive data cache (due to the combination of Opera Mini and Opera Turbo). Is Opera looking at ways to monetize this information?

JVT: We value our customer’s privacy extremely. So overstepping any kind of boundaries there is out of question.

We are clearly looking at ways where we can help enable relevant advertisement on the mobile through our purchase of AdMarvel. We announced the Open Mobile Ad Exchange and as part of that we can target people. But we don’t want to target anywhere not close to comfort. Typically the kind of targeting will be based on device type and location on a very broad scale.

Me: What is the Opera BreamUI mentioned during Capital Markets Day?

JVT: If you look at the different Opera versions on different phones you will see a lot of similarities. It’s because the user interface is written in the Bream language, allowing us very quickly to deploy Opera on new platforms.

This allows us to spend more time on making a great user experience and less time on actually develop specifically for one platform.

Me: Opera also has some interesting offerings for connected TVs. How is it different from the new Google TV? How has the reception been from the device manufacturers?

JVT: The response has been great. We have been signing up a lot of device manufacturers including brand names such a Philips, Toshiba, Lowe, etc. We are also working closely with the operators and are seeing significant increase in deployments. We believe that in the next few years internet technologies on television will become a big hit.

Me: Earlier in the year, you stepped down as the CEO of Opera. What prompted the change? As a co-founder what are your current responsibilities within the company?

JVT: I have run Opera for 15 years. I think it is important that for a great company you have to be able to handle change. Personally I wanted to focus more on the tasks that I like and slightly less on the tasks that I like less. So I decided that I wanted to have Lars, whom I trust, to take over the role as CEO.

Me: Soon after Lars Boilesen stepped in, Opera India was practically shut down, and the entire engineering department was axed. Even more surprisingly, the entire thing happened in a secretive manner without a public announcement. What went wrong?

JVT: The decision to close an office that and let people go is always a tough one.
At the same time, it is difficult to maintain and control a faraway office as it requires quite a lot of resources. The assessment from the team was that they wanted to reduce the complexity of operations that arrive from having multiple offices and they moved the work to development centers closer to Oslo.

Obviously it was not an easy decision to make.

Me: Were any other Opera Software offices downsized/closed?

JVT: The company is continuing to grow. For the India office, rationale was about moving this operation to Poland to reduce the complexity.
When it comes to others the rationale was that we are doing more standardized products and less custom work.

Me: What is your perception of India with respect to its engineering talent pool?

JVT: India certainly is a great resource of engineering talent. We have a number of Indians working in our global offices handling important portfolios.

Me: Opera Software is more than 15 years old. Looking back, is there anything that you wish you/Opera Software had done differently?

JVT: There are always choices. But I think it is important to not dwell on hindsight but still try to use the learning’s from the past while moving forward. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. All the choices we made that in hindsight we wished we had done differently try to rather use that as a positive impulse for moving forward.

Me: What does the coming year hold for Opera?

JVT: The goal for Opera has to be to continue the great growth that we have been seeing all around during the last couple of years. We have tripled our overall user base combining desktop, mini and mobile. In the beginning of 2009 we were 50 mn users and now we are 150 mn active users. So it is a significant growth, a growth that I believe is important to continue to have and even increase. To do this we need to focus on the end users, providing them with better user experience.

Focusing on improving the product for end users on different devices in different markets.

[Hat-tip to Choose Opera for the lovely Techie Jon image.]

Did You Know That Opera India Pretty Much Closed Shop Ten Months Back?

Did you know that Opera India pretty much closed shop ten months back? Neither did I, until a few weeks back. Apparently, back in March 2010, Opera fired almost all of its employees in India, and shut down the entire engineering division. Opera had opened its Chandigarh office in 2006 amidst much fanfare. In 2009, they even shifted to a swanky new office in Chandigarh’s IT Park. So, what went wrong?

We reported in January that Opera co-founder Jon von Tetzchner had stepped down as CEO to make way for Lars Boilesen. It appears that the new man in charge made all the difference. Opera had suffered surprise losses in Q3 2009, and their shares had shed a lot of value. Boilesen was obviously entrusted with the responsibility of getting Opera back in the black.

Opera India had just delivered the eBook Reader and Unite Media Player widgets, which are still among the most downloaded widgets. Opera 10.5 with widgets that could run as independent applications was released a day earlier. Even before employees could get their breath back, on March 3, Boilesen informed them that the entire engineering division will be shut down. From what I have managed to gather, the only explanation offered was that this was a part of the restructuring at Opera Software.

Of course, downsizing and restructuring are harsh realities of life for IT and Software companies. However, what surprises me is how silently Opera managed to pull this off. Neither was there any announcement, nor any media coverage. The restructuring has left Opera India with a handful of employees – Mrunmaiy Abroal, Shwetank Dixit and Hari G. All of them currently work from home. Sagar Chandna was called back to Norway.


Opera India Team

I tried reaching out to some ex-Opera India employees; however, (apparently) they are contracted not to speak about Opera in negative light. Nevertheless, you can glean more about what went on from their public blog posts. Check out the blog posts by Vishal Lahsiv, Amit Patil and Vivek Jisthu.

Speaking on the issue, Opera’s co-founder, Mr. Tetzchner said, “The decision to close an office that and let people go is always a tough one. At the same time, it is difficult to maintain and control a far away office as it requires quite a lot of resources.”

It’s disappointing that Opera chose to shut down their Indian engineering team. They had an immensely talented bunch, including four IITians. I wish that they had made better utilization of the talent pool available to them. However, it isn’t surprising, simply because Opera is a public company that has to answer to shareholders. At the same time, while it is always nice to have a formal announcement, companies aren’t required to announce workforce cutbacks, and they often don’t. From the anecdotes I have heard, the lack of knowledge also hurt the employees who were fired. Although, most of the employees have succeeded in finding new jobs for themselves, it was a big hurdle for them to convince potential employers about the closure of Opera India’s engineering department. With everyone from managers (Wolfgang Maehr) to testers axed, there wasn’t anyone to back them up. After all, major software firms shutting down in India is still a relatively rare phenomenon.


We moved ahead ! there was lots of hicupps after this, it was undoubtedly one of most hard faced part of life. It has been almost 8-9 months to the incidence but still feels like it was yesterday only. Opera being the first company of my career will always be cherished . This company taught me technology , “how to code”, and more over few essential lessons of life .

– Vishal Lahsiv

All said the india office was also not so very expensive to Opera India ´s pocket. Which is one of the more surprizing realities of closing down the India Operations. Everyone will find their way…move on…but the values that companies talk about…particularly values of one family openness etc. Well they all collapse when it comes to business decisions. In the brief sojourn working in Opera, i was satisfied with the work culture and the type of work. Perhaps thats the reason for some good team morale and productive output by end of the day.

– Amit Patil

Opera 11 Downloaded 6.7 Million Times on the First Day

Opera Opera has always been known for its innovation. Unfortunately, in spite of consistently delivering a fast, secure, and stable browser, Opera has always been the little guy in the browser wars. As far as desktop browsers are concerned, Opera is currently handsomely behind Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari in terms of market share. However, things are looking up for Opera.

Recently, it crossed 50 million active users, and now Opera 11 has been downloaded more than 6.7 million times within first twenty four hours of its release. This is a significant improvement over the 1.7 million downloads per day in the first week for Opera 10.10, and a huge improvement over the 1 million downloads in four days after the release of Opera 8.

According to a survey conducted on new users, 53% were coming from Firefox, while 43% were coming from Internet Explorer.

Opera 11 Released: Introduces Extensions, Tab Stacking, Address Bar Tweaks and More

After a remarkably short release candidate period, Opera Software has released Opera 11, just in time for Christmas. With Opera 11, the venerable Norwegian browser maker is hoping to leapfrog its competition. Even as Mozilla has been struggling to get Firefox 4 out of the door, Opera 11 has gone from alpha to final release within just 2 months. Opera’s Haavard Moen claims that an improved development process over the past year or so has allowed developers to work on more things simultaneously without compromising stability of the main branch.

Opera 11 is a big release for Opera Software. It’s a significant step-up from the Opera 10.6 trunk and adds some meaty features to the already feature packed browser. Some of the highlights of this release are:

  • Extensions: Opera 11 introduces a new API based on the W3C widget specification. This means that you can easily develop Opera extensions using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Opera’s implementation of extensions is similar to Chrome’s. Some of them work quietly in the background, while others have a user interface that is exposed through a button. There are already close to two hundred extensions in the official extensions gallery. The most popular extensions include an ad blocker, LastPass and a YouTube video downloader.
  • Tab Stacking: Tab clutter is a problem many web-addicts have to deal with. Once you have a couple of dozen or more tabs, the utility of tabbed browsing diminishes greatly as individual tabs become practically indistinguishable. Opera is trying to solve this issue through Tab Stacking. Tab Stacking makes it possible to group tabs by simply dragging and dropping tabs on top of each other. Opera also toyed around with the idea of enabling tab stacking in one of the snapshots. However, it was dropped in subsequent builds due to numerous inconsistencies and annoyances present in the initial implementation. Opera clearly believes that tabbed stacking is the future of browsing, and has promised to refine it further in future releases.
  • Visual Mouse Gestures: Opera is one of the few browsers to ship with inbuilt support for mouse gestures. Mouse gestures is the killer feature you never knew you needed. It allows you to perform actions like open links in new tab, reload, stop and close tabs with a flick of your mouse. Once you get the hang of it, you will find it hard to live without it. However, most users never discover this feature, as the only way to learn about gestures is to study the documentation or go through the Mouse gestures configuration. Opera 11 tries to fix this by introducing a slick user interface that appears on right-clicking on any portion of the page. This mouse gestures interface guides you through the basic gestures.
  • Opera-Visual-Mouse-Gestures

  • Safer and Cleaner Address Bar: Opera has tweaked the address bar to make it easier to spot phishing websites. The primary domain name is highlighted while protocols and parameters are hidden by default. It also prominently displays security information about the website you are browsing.
  • Opera-11-Address-Bar

  • On-demand Plugin Loading: Now, it is possible to have Opera load plugins like Flash and Silverlight only when required. This actually acts as a very nifty flashblock, as flash videos are blocked by default, and can be loaded individually.

Other Changes include

  • New app-tab mode that shrinks and shifts pinned tabs to the left.
  • Inbuilt support for Google Suggest.
  • Improved rendering engine (presto).
  • New Mail panel.
  • New Bookmarks bar.
  • Support for WebSockets (disabled due to security concerns).

Opera-11

You can download Opera 11 for Windows, UNIX and Mac from www.opera.com.

Opera Reaches 150 Million Users, Celebrates it in Style

A couple of months back, Opera Software had disclosed that it has more than 140 million users. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the creative browser maker from Norway is now celebrating 150 million users. A majority of the users are from Opera Mini, which offers a fully functional tabbed browsing experience on low-end handsets and feature phones. Opera for Desktop is the other significant contributor with a little over fifty million users. Opera is available on a wide range of devices including the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, several connected televisions, and of course on smartphones (Opera Mini and Opera Mobile).

Opera-150-Million-Users

About a week back, we had lauded Opera for their creative marketing efforts. In the recent past they have managed to impress Reddit (twice!), besides creating a rather popular humorous parody. Keeping up their impressive track record, Opera Software is announcing this milestone by leaking its co-founder’s inbox. Head over to opera.com/portal/jvt/ to get a sneak peek at Jon von Tetzchner’s faux inbox. It’s full of humorous and interesting fake conversations involving Tetzchner. Besides easter eggs for Opera community members, it also contains a hat-tip to Reddit.

LastPass Extension for Opera is Finally Here!

LastPass is one extension I have been waiting for ever since Opera published its API. I had earlier mentioned that LastPass has been working with Opera software to release an extension as soon as possible. However, one thing holding them back was the lack of support for HTTPS in Opera’s extensions. Opera Software fixed this in Opera 11 Beta (actually they did it in an earlier snapshot), which was released just yesterday, and now LastPass is already here.

LastPass-Button
The LastPass Button

LastPass-Tools
LastPass Tools

If you are wondering why I am gushing about LastPass, check out our earlier articles on this nifty little tool. LastPass is a free (freemium to be accurate) cloud based service that can generate strong passwords, remember your passwords, and automatically fill forms and works seamlessly across multiple browsers, operating systems and devices. While Opera’s Wand can remember passwords, none of the other features offered by LastPass are available. Better still, you can even import and export information from other similar third party tools like RoboForm, 1Password, KeePass, Password Safe, MyPasswordSafe, Sxipper, TurboPasswords, and Passpack

LastPass-Create-Form-Profiles
Create LastPass Form Profiles

LastPass for Opera works through a button in the address bar, much like its Chrome counterpart. It automatically jumps into action as soon as it detects a form and offers to remember and fill-in information. You can also tick the “Auto-login” option to automatically enter and submit login information.

LastPass-Fill-Password
LastPass Fill Password

LastPass-Settings
LastPass Settings

If you on Opera 11 Beta, you can download LastPass from the official extensions gallery.

Opera Floors Reddit: Gets Co-Founder to Ride the Narwhal over a Double Rainbow

Opera Software is no stranger to theatrics. Back when Opera 8 was released, Jon S. von Tetzchner, then CEO of Opera, attempted a cross-Atlantic swim to celebrate 1 million downloads. However, when it comes to going viral, Firefox always managed one up Opera.

A lot has changed since then. Opera now has more than 140 million users, and also seems to be getting really good at leveraging social media. Earlier in the year, Opera had us in splits with the Odd and Even browser speed test parody. However, as we have seen on numerous occasions, the best of the best viral stuff are impromptu creations with a touch of genius. That’s what happened yesterday.

Yesterday, a Redditor, who described himself as a “person with zero creative talent”, offered to draw anything requested by the community in MS Paint. An Opera employee, who also appears to be an avid Redditor, quickly took the opportunity to request a picture of Tetzchner riding a narwhal over a double rainbow. As an added incentive, he offered to put up the result on the home page of Opera. Here’s what the fellow Redditor came up with.

Opera-Reddit-Narwhal

And this is what happened afterwards.

Opera-Floors-Reddit

Opera Software obviously has quite a few avid Redditors. In fact, they have been campaigning heavily on Reddit for the past few weeks. Besides purchasing ad impressions, they also did an IamA (I am a), which was a roaring success. Opera Software was widely applauded for “doing it right” and clocked in more than 35,000 downloads from their Reddit campaign. They obviously got a few more yesterday. Well done!

Opera 11 Beta Released: Introduces Tab Stacking and More

Opera is one of the pioneers of tabbed browsing. It might not have been the first tabbed browser, but many of the features we see in current tabbed browsers were first seen in Opera. With every major new version, Opera has continued to enhance its already refined tabbed browsing interface. They introduced “Trash Can” (recycle bin for closed tabs) in version 8, tab thumbnails in version 9, and visual tabs in version 10. Opera 11 upholds this tradition with the introduction of “Tab stacking”.

Opera-Tabs
Opera: Pioneer of Tabbed Browsing

Opera 11 Beta has just been released. Most of the new features like visual mouse gestures, smarter address bar and improved mail panel, were previewed in the recent snapshot builds. Check out our earlier coverage for a low-down on these features.

Opera-11-Visual-Mouse-Gestures
Opera 11: Visual Mouse Gestures

Opera-11-Address-Bar
Opera 11: Enhanced Address Bar

The surprise new feature is the aforementioned tab stacking. Tab stacking allows you to group tabs by simply dragging and dropping them on top of each other. Users can look into the contents of a group by either hovering the mouse over a group (which triggers a thumbnail preview of all the tabs in the group), or by clicking the tiny arrow next to each group’s button. By the way, don’t yet try to directly stack two tabs residing in different windows. I tried it thrice, and Opera crashed right away on each occasion.

Opera-11-Tab-Stacking
Opera 11: Tab Stacking

“Tabs are the most popular feature in browsers today,” said Jan Standal, VP of Desktop Products, Opera. “Because so many of us wrestle with tens or even hundreds of open tabs, we needed a way to simplify tab management. Just like stacking papers for future reference, stacking your tabs is an intuitive way to organize and collect your open Web pages.”

Opera-11-Tab-Stacking-Thumbnail
Opera 11: Tab Stacking (Thumbnail Preview)

Opera-11-Tab-Stacking-Expanded
Opera 11: Tab Stacking (Expanded)

Opera 11 Beta introduces further refinements to Opera extensions, which were introduced in Opera 11 Alpha. Currently, Opera has 131 extensions, which have been downloaded over 500,000 times, with ten to twenty extensions being submitted for approval every day. If you are an Opera 11 user, check out some of our favorite extensions over here.

[ Download Opera 11 Beta ]


Opera 11: Tab Stacking Introduction

State of Opera (Q3 2010): Increases Revenue, But Fails to Gain New Desktop Users

Earlier in the day, I took a look at the State of Mozilla report, which highlighted impressive all around gains for the open source browser maker. Opera Software, one of the smaller competitors of Mozilla, also recently published its own financial report.

According to the third quarter (2010) report, Opera Software posted record revenues of 178.3 MNOK (million Norwegian krone), which is a 32% year on year growth. A major driving factor was partnerships with device manufacturers and telecom providers. Among others, Opera has partnerships telecom service providers like Telenor, Vodafone, AT&T, Sprint, MTC (MTS) and Virgin, and mobile phone manufacturers like HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. Opera is also a player in the connected TV market, and licenses its technology to Phillips, Toshiba, Sharp, Thomson, Realtek and others.

State-of-Opera-Q3-2010-Users

Desktop revenue increased by 41%, whereas revenue from internet devices increased by 32%. Opera currently has more than 140 million users, with a vast majority of them being on Opera Mini. Unfortunately for Opera, although its revenue from desktop products increased, the number of users witnessed decrease in consecutive quarters. Opera Software is blaming this on seasonal variations, which sounds rather convenient. Seasonal fluctuations are generally small enough to be compensated by gaining a few million users. If they are significant to have a visible impact on Opera’s userbase, then that is because Opera has actually failed to reach out to a significant number of new users. Unless maintaining status quo is considered to be success at Opera, there is no hiding the fact that Opera is still failing to make its presence felt in the desktop segment. It’s also rather convenient that Opera is bringing up seasonal fluctuations now. No one mentioned it, when they were gaining users.

State-of-Opera-Q3-2010-Desktop

Of late, Opera Software has been making all the right moves with its desktop offering. In fact, Opera 11 alpha was downloaded 370,000 times in the first two days. I really hope that Opera 11 will help them in gaining more users. However, before that, they should be prepared to at least acknowledge exactly where they stand.