"I remember Opera before it became a "suite of applications"
This is a quote from a recent blog post by Mozilla's Asa, where he fondly remembers the days when Opera was only a browser, and where he talks more about the UI simplification in Opera 8.
The problem is that Opera has never been just a browser. Even Opera 3 had a built-in newsreader, and a send-only e-mail client.
In the same blog post, he writes about Opera 8's simplified user interface, and how Opera is starting to look more like Firefox. Now, this would indicate that somehow, Opera follows Firefox. But Firefox itself was actually an attempt to make a simplified "IE-like" user interface, so is he really saying that Opera is looking more like IE now? That Opera is following IE's lead?
We all know how bloggers love to spin things in certain ways, and it is interesting to note how Mozilla's products seem to "break new ground", according to the Mozilla Organization. And by all means, Firefox is a nice little browser, even though it doesn't quite have the smooth integration of features that Opera does. It's great that there is another alternative that people can use instead of Internet Explorer, and the fact that they released version 1.0 at a time when "everyone" was trying to get away from IE led to a lot of press for alternative browsers, including Opera. But when it all comes down to it, how much new ground does Mozilla really break?
Indeed, last year I wrote a journal entry about some rather interesting claims about new features in Mozilla's embedded browser, Minimo, and I pointed out that even though it sounded like Minimo was breaking new ground, Opera had been doing all those things for a long time. Clearly, the Minimo developer who was interviewed knew about Opera – he even made claims about Opera's portability, which was apparently worse than Mozilla's, even though I doubt that he actually has seen enough of Opera's source code to make an informed statement, and even though Opera is available for a lot more mobile operating systems than Minimo. Why, then, did he seem to ignore the fact that all those "fantastic" things Minimo was almost doing were already done by Opera?
And now we return to Firefox, the browser that Opera is apparently looking more like. It would be interesting to take a look at what Firefox has to offer compared to Opera, and see if some of those things were done by Opera first, or perhaps even invented by Opera… And if this were the case, would it not be more accurate to say that Firefox is becoming more like Opera?
– "Popup Blocking
Stop annoying popup ads in their tracks with Firefox's built in popup blocker."
If I am not mistaken, Opera was the first browser with a built-in popup blocker. It used to be called "allow pages to open new windows" or something like that, way before the popup insanity that faces the Web today.
– "Tabbed Browsing
View more than one web page in a single window with this time saving feature. Open links in the background so that they're ready for viewing when you're ready to read them. Find out more…"
Opera started off as MDI, and had tabs ages before Mozilla.
– "Privacy and Security
Built with your security in mind, Firefox keeps your computer safe from malicious spyware by not loading harmful ActiveX controls. A comprehensive set of privacy tools keep your online activity your business."
So not loading ActiveX is a feature? Ok, Opera has not loaded ActiveX controls for ages 🙂
– "Smarter Search
Google Search is built right into the toolbar, and there is a plethora of other search tools including Smart Keywords (type "dict <word>" in the Location bar), and the new Find bar (which finds text as you type without covering up anything)."
Another Opera invention? Opera was the first browser to include the now famous search field to the right of the URL field, as far as I know.
– "Live Bookmarks
RSS integration lets you read the latest news headlines and read updates to your favorite sites that are syndicated. Find out more…"
Yes, Opera has had built-in newsfeeds support for quite some time 🙂
– "Hassle-Free Downloading
Files you download are automatically saved to your Desktop so they're easy to find. Fewer prompts mean files download quicker."
Like Opera's quick download feature? 🙂
– "Fits Like a Glove
Simple and intuitive, yet fully featured, Firefox has all the functions you're used to – Bookmarks, History, Full Screen, Text Zooming to make pages with small text easier to read, etc."
Most of those are already available in Internet Explorer. Opera offers a lot more built-in that you need extensions (third party software) for in Firefox.
– "S, M, L or XL—It's Your Choice
Firefox is the most customizable browser on the planet. Customize your toolbars to add additional buttons, install new Extensions that add new features, add new Themes to browse with style, and use the adaptive search system to allow you to search an infinite number of engines. Firefox is as big or small as you want."
I think Internet Explorer did this years ago. Opera, too, does most of this, and it can install themes/skins without restarting, too 🙂
– "Setup's a Snap
At only 4.7MB (Windows), Firefox takes just a few minutes to download over a slow connection and seconds over a fast connection. The installer gets you set up quickly, and the new Easy Transition system imports all of your settings – Favorites, passwords and other data from Internet Explorer and other browsers – so you can start surfing right away."
I must say that Opera had the "small download" thing going long before Firefox did. And even today, the full-featured Opera suite is a smaller download than Firefox, a browser with a limited feature set (where, admittedly, most features seem to be features that Opera already had).
– "A Developer's Best Friend
– "Read Mail—Not Spam
Thunderbird is the perfect complement to Firefox."
And Thunderbird adds 5.8 MB to the already-larger-than-Opera download size, making it more than twice as big! Sorry, could not resist 😉
Thunderbird also recently introduced "virtual folders", after Opera's database-like approach to sorting e-mail. Gmail also followed Opera's lead.
Also, rumours have it that there are even more features on the way in Firefox 1.1. Will they, yet again, follow Opera's lead and introduce more of Opera's innovations into their own browser?
Time will tell. You can all guess what I'm thinking 😉