Opera is one of the oldest browsers that are still being used today under their original name (with the other notable browser being Internet Explorer). However, not a lot of people have tried Opera or even heard much about Opera as the browser has always watched from far away as Internet Explorer, then Firefox, and now Google Chrome are taking the stage of Internet prominence.
However, is that relatively small amount of attention deserved? Not really, and here are five reasons why you should at least try the browser.
Out of all the browsers that have existed (yes, including Chrome and Firefox), Opera has always been the one browser to stick with the standards 100% of the time and implement them correctly. Firefox stood for standards but it didn’t have 100% support (Acid3 test scores of 93/100, anyone?) but it still gained traction because the standards support was plenty better than Internet Explorer.
As far as Chrome is concerned, it does support standards, yet it’s also implementing its own Chrome technologies such as SPDY (an HTTP replacement which Google is using on all of its services but virtually no other site uses) that hasn’t been available in other browsers (Firefox 13 will be the first browser to support it besides Chrome) or Native Client. While I do admit that Opera is sometimes slow to come out with full support of new standards, but when it does it’s done right.
Opera has been a great, innovative product throughout the years. From developing Opera Unite services where the browser could even be used as a makeshift web server to a built-in mail client to Opera Turbo to other useful features like Tab Stacking (which is still one of my favorite tab organization features across all browsers), Opera’s developers over in Norway keep things continually interesting. Almost all of these features are very useful for everyday users, so why not use a browser where such innovative features are regularly cranked out?
Customization has always been Firefox’s home court with its massive library of extensions, but in terms of out-of-the-box customization, Opera easily bests Firefox. You can literally do so much to tweak Opera with just its default settings and features that you could spend hours perfecting how it looks and behaves. Basically anything in Opera can be changed, moved, and so forth, from buttons to tabs to menus. Oh, and then Opera also offers extensions.
Security and Underdog Status
Last but not least, Opera has a good reputation for being a very secure browser. Not only is it solid from a security perspective, but it is also less susceptible to attacks as its an underdog browser. However, just because its an underdog does not mean that it lacks any security features. Speaking of which, it’s always good for the Internet ecosystem if people use an underdog browser. That way there is always a greater need for standards-compliant sites and competition between browsers will continue to run high. Because we remember what happened when Internet Explorer had 95% market share, right?
To summarize, Opera is a very worthy browser that everyone should try out (right now). It continually gets praise from those in the know for what it can do, yet its overall market share doesn’t really change. If you try Opera and its not for you, then that’s fine. But I’m sure there are plenty of people who’d love Opera but they currently don’t use it because they stay with the big dogs.
Have you tried Opera? What did you like or not like about it? What is important to you when shopping around in the browser market? Let us know in the comments!