Saturday, October 01, 2005

Singing a new tune at the Opera (.com)

Opera has finally bitten the bullet and taken the ads out of their free web browser.

I first tried Opera about 5 years ago, but was frustrated by the space taken up by the adverts, and went back to Internet Explorer. I dabled with Netscape/Mozilla, but was never entirely happy with them, and they had trouble with many IE only websites.

Once Firefox hit version 0.7, I switched over, and generally have been really happy with it. No spyware, fast rendering of sites, small download, tabbed browser windows and a secure alternative to IE. I also use Thunderbird as my email client. However, there are still some frustrations with it - some sites (particularly financial ones) insist on using IE for "security reasons!" and some just don't work - being one I have come across recently, forcing me back to IE.

With the new ad-free Opera now available, I thought I'd give it another try, and generally I'm impressed. It seems just as fast as Firefox, has tabbed browsing (with a slightly better layout in my opinion, with the close button on the tab, rather than at the top right of the window) and the Renault website works with it. I must admit to have not taken my compatibility tests any further than this.

However, I think I am going to stick with Firefox. I like the availability of plugins, though as Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera says they could potentially be a security risk. I also like to support the open source development community.

If you haven't tried Opera, or Firefox for that matter, then give them a try, you won't be disappointed.

Just one more thing, if you do use Opera, go into the quick preferences on the tools menu, and set it to identify itself as Opera, rather than the default of IE. You can always switch it back if some websites object, but it will enable the usage of Opera to be properly reported - at the moment most Opera users will be contributing to the IE usage figures!