Opera slammed in Washington Post review



Washington Post writer and Firefox user Rob Pegoraro has published a rather negative review of Opera 8.0. It is already being discussed in the forums, and there are quite a few contradictions and other weaknesses in the review. For example, Opera offers a lot of features "out of the box" that are only available as extensions in Firefox. And even then, Firefox cannot match the way Opera integrates all these features for greater efficiency.

He also doesn't seem to like the way Opera offers features, but doesn't force you to use them. Some people like to cascade and tile their pages, and user mode can be useful in a variety of situations. But if you don't like these features, you don't have to use them either.

When Rob gives Firefox credit for Opera's security information widget in the address bar, it does indicate that perhaps more research should have gone into the review. And when he first praises tabbed browsing for keeping the Windows task bar free of clutter, but then criticizes Opera for not keeping the task bar free of clutter when popup windows are opened, it seems that a small contradiction has found its way into the article.

Overall, it is an interesting review, but suffers from a few contradictions and strange comments. In his review of Firefox he seems to defend it when pages don't work in Firefox, but no explanations are offered when he mentions sites that don't work in Opera. It is simply a weakness, full stop. (The fact is that the Nextel site actually works fine in Opera if you add "nextel.com=4" to your ua.ini. This makes Opera report as Mozilla to the server, and the server then sends Opera working code, as opposed to the broken code Opera receives when it reports as itself.)

It will be interesting to see if Rob revisits Opera again in the future, and maybe then with a little less bias. As a self-proclaimed Firefox user, it is entirely possible that his view of Opera is coloured by his browser of choice, but one needs to remember that just because something is different doesn't mean that it's bad.

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16 thoughts on “Opera slammed in Washington Post review

  1. in fact, most of negative comments over opera are blur in nature. they just can't clearly or correctly give the reason. it's more like a personal flavor problem due to accustomized usage than a possibly fair comparison of essential advantages of technology and products. a great chinese saying goes: the thing coming to you head first masters all afterwards. (先入为主)

    it's a pity for them not be able to enjoy the great things opera brings about. chances are granted if they decide to take things unbiased, or one day they hate sth of what they are using at present, and expect to consult solutions from sth better.

  2. I see after Pegoraro's articles. I found, that he
    is a FireFox fan since March, 2004, since the
    pre-preview of FireFox. Then FF war a very instable,
    weak browser. He loved his 'FREE-ing'

    And he gives advices for FireFox! He is an expert
    of FireFox. So make an article from Opera at the
    first look, I can say, that is very unfair, IMHO!

    And Washington Post is relevant to affect for
    customers opinion, unfortunately.

  3. One thing is sure, Opera browser stands as a reference for its features in many other web browsers users' forums. How often is Opera not mentioned for one or more of its features in wish lists, in the Mozillazine forums themselves! In Opera they have this, in Opera they have that …

    "Opera offers a lot of features "out of the box" that are only available as extensions in Firefox." writes Haavard. This is so true that one of the reasons which led me to switch from FF to Opera was the fact every new version of the former required rebuilding of most extensions, also that some extensions are sometimes incompatible, or do partially the same thing. Page handling and speed were other considerations under FF 1.0 then, and security, now.

    I am not an engineer. I have no legitimity to proclame what is the best browser. Only my experience as an end-of-the-line user who is happy to use a browser in a simple and efficient way and at the same time know potentialities are right there, ready to be called and used whenever should I require them.

  4. So make an article from Opera at the
    first look, I can say, that is very unfair

    Unfair YES. but don't forget these r the same xperiences of other first time users .
    I agree with quite a few thigns:

    use mode: hardly anybody uses it. newbies don't like icons abt things they donot understand. Ofcourse they can rightclick and remove but how r they supposed to know its possible.

    Keyboard shortcuts:
    some strkoeit user complained abt mouse gestures not working in opera8. that was due to change in shotcuts. My cousin complained that F4 Doesn't focus the addressbar

    new floating window:
    myself an xperienced user got confused when this happened. it must be crazy for newbie

    import other browsers: bookmarks . make it simple plz

    Don't take me wrong. i like opera but i do recognize the fact that opera cld be a lot simpler for newbiez

  5. The user mode button is hidden in a toolbar which is not shown by default, rendering the point about user mode not being used moot.

    Novice users generally don't use keyboard shortcuts, and Opera is consistent when it opens all pages inside the main window. Consistency is a good thing.

  6. Opera lovers don't seem to get that less is sometimes more. Not for everyone, obviously (read advanced users). But for people accustomed to IE, moving to Firefox is obviously a much smaller step to take than moving to Opera. This is probably the reason Firefox at the moment is catching on faster than Opera. Also, the (inevitable?) ads in Opera may seem small and unintrusive, but they do their part of cluttering the UI, which may well be another reason for Opera not yet having substantial market share.

    I think it's great, though, what has been done to simplify the UI for Opera 8. Most (all?) IE keyboard shortcuts work now. (Although sometimes I find Ctrl+L does nothing – seems to depend on what is focused.)

    The review has pleny of mistakes, one of them being when he claims that Opera can only open new pages in tabs – this is changable after all. Also, if he explained why webpages sometimes don't in Firefox, he obviously should have done so here too.

    ps. Great to hear Opera will (?) beat Firefox to correctly rendering Acid2. Opera may well also get an Acid2-compatible release out before Apple ships the next Safari.

  7. "Opera lovers don't seem to get that less is sometimes more."

    I think they do. They kept asking for easier defaults, which they got with Opera 8.

    "But for people accustomed to IE, moving to Firefox is obviously a much smaller step to take than moving to Opera."

    I don't think so. Not with Opera 8.0.

    "This is probably the reason Firefox at the moment is catching on faster than Opera."

    I think it has more to do with Firefox being free without ads, and being released as 1.0 at the right time (when IE's security flaws were exposed to the public in such a degree that security experts recommended that people switch to something else).

  8. Right or wrong I thing the article expressed the casual users perception and I agree that Opera is not the “easy” browser most users expect. Most of you will disagree with me but be honest you don’t get the share with fans or members of web browser users forums you only get it with ease of use, security und features. Opera offers tons of features and security but ease of use??
    I regard myself as reasonable computer literate but I have no intention to edit INI files or the registry for a commodity like a web browser to do what I want it to do (accessing web sides, after all).
    I did use Opera before and switched back to IE, than I read about Opera V8 and hoped that’s it, it wasn’t (as mentioned already, I want to use not to tweak it). The final touch came from Opera-users Digest Volume 9 Issue 18, I quote:
    “To make Opera 8 resume in that case requires using a hex editor on the download.dat file in your profile (with Opera not running, of course). Search for the hex sequence 0x07 0x00 0x04 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x02. There will be one of those for each download with status "loaded", look at the URL just above and repeat the search until the URL matches what you were trying to get. Then change the last byte of the sequence to 0x04. That's the "Loading aborted" status which corresponds to manually stopping the download. Save the modified file, start Opera and you should be able to resume the download.” unquote.
    Come on guys, do you rely believe a casual user like me will use Opera if she/he reads this?

  9. No, Opera is not a browser only for experts.

    "Right or wrong I thing the article expressed the casual users perception and I agree that Opera is not the “easy” browser most users expect."

    Care to mention some specific examples from the review where Opera is not an easy browser to use? He hardly covers ease of use at all, as far as I can tell.

    The article expressed the opinion of a Firefox user, and someone who is not exactly a computer novice. The only example I can see of something which could cause problems for a new user is the default browser problem under XP. But when it comes to actually using Opera, I couldn't find much in the way of things that would lead to problems for casual users.

    "I regard myself as reasonable computer literate but I have no intention to edit INI files or the registry for a commodity like a web browser to do what I want it to do"

    Editing ini files is just something you can do if you want to. Most people will never touch them, and there's no need to either.

    "The final touch came from Opera-users Digest Volume 9 Issue 18"

    Again, you are mistaking advanced hacks and tricks with casual users' needs. Just because someone posted an advanced trick on the Opera-Users mailing list doesn't mean that this is something most people will want to do.

  10. Hi,

    I'd like to say that I find User mode an extremely good idea and I think it deserves a place on my address toolbar. I've come oftentimes across a site written with anything but readability in mind (gray text on black background, 8pt fonts, you name it) and with just a click I could read the site nice and easily. So I think this is a feature that should stay forever in Opera.

    The article seems indeed biased so it's not worth much comment. The only problem is that it can bias other users that will just follow it blindly without trying for themselves. I've tried FireFox and I can't say it approaches the ease of use of Opera (this could also be because I biased towards Opera :D).

    Best regards and keep up the good work,
    Radu

  11. Well I will not argue with you it leads to the same discussion Mac and Windows users have sometimes but on two of your issues I want to reply:

    1. “Editing ini files is just something you can do if you want to. Most people will never touch them, and there's no need to either.”

    In the first post there is a hint what you need to do when you want to go to the Nextel site: Quote: (The fact is that the Nextel site actually works fine in Opera if you add "nextel.com=4" to your ua.ini).
    Well, some casual Opera users may want to go to the Nextel site.

    2. “Again, you are mistaking advanced hacks and tricks with casual users' needs. Just because someone posted an advanced trick on the Opera-Users mailing list doesn't mean that this is something most people will want to do.”

    Well downloading large files through a proxy is not that unusual for casual users and no matter if they want it or not, it seems to me that they have no other choice then using that particular advanced trick.

  12. In case my previous reply wasn't clear enough:

    You can do advanced editing if you want to, but it is not required at all, and most people use Opera without touching any ini files or hacking any resource files.

    Similarly, to take another example: You can write your own code for the Linux kernel and compile it if you want to, but you don't have to do it. Most people will still use Linux without doing it, but holding it against Linux that you can edit the source code does not make sense.

    You can edit ua.ini, but it is also updated automatically by Opera, to work around sites that block Opera users. It is an option, but you don't have to do it. It is illogical to hold it against Opera that you have the possibility to edit ua.ini, as most people will never even touch it or know that it exists.

    In any case, this discussion does not belong here. If you would like to discuss it further, please create a thread in the forum.

  13. Such comparison have to be reasonable and quite fair. For me, it doesn't matter to have many alternative browser as long as I hate Internet Explorer and such things offered is just FREE!!!

  14. "(The fact is that the Nextel site actually works fine in Opera if you add "nextel.com=4" to your ua.ini. This makes Opera report as Mozilla to the server, and the server then sends Opera working code, as opposed to the broken code Opera receives when it reports as itself.)"

    That’s what happens when you identify as MSIE by default… I don’t think that nowadays that is necessary or even desireable anymore.

    I have recently made an extensive client-side engine work in Opera (although it’s not finished), and I can assure you that had I not made Opera run the Mozilla flavour of the code (as opposed to the special cased IE code), it would not have worked, at all. And even then some things didn’t work, e.g. .style.cssText = xxx (DOM2) and elem['attr'] = xxx (DOM0, I think). Not that the latter one was used much.

    ~Grauw

  15. This guy, like the AP story splashed across the country just after Opera 8's debut (see, e.g. http://www.smh.com.au/news/Software/Opera-fails-at-basics/2005/04/22/1114028531332.html?oneclick=true ), just misses the boat about Opera's true contributions to browsing. Opera is the innovator, coming up with tabbed browsing, good find in page capabilities, M2, you name it. Furthermore, in a browsing world saturated with advertising, the author makes a major complaint about banner advertising in Opera. Rather unbelievable, if you ask me. His final statement, that Opera innovations will probably find their way into Firefox anyway, is the sort of arrogant comment that one could easily make about Bill Gates versus Apple. One innovates and moves IT forward. The other expropriates and stalls innovation.

  16. These problems are not caused by Opera identifying as IE by default. Quite the contrary. It seems that more sites work when identified as IE than with other identifications, even if "Opera" is part of the useragent string.

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