Opera is pulling its Presto browser engine and replacing it with WebKit.
Opera Software today put the world on notice that its Presto rendering engine will be making a disappearing act. Going forward, Opera will make a "gradual transition" to WebKit, as well as Chromium, for just about every upcoming browser release for smartphones and computers, the Norwegian browser maker announced today. The engine replacement was mentioned as an aside to the fact that Opera's collection of browsers across all products now boast 300 million users.
"300 million marks the first lap, but the race goes on," says Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software. "On the final stretch up to 300 million users, we have experienced the fastest acceleration in user growth we have ever seen. Now, we are shifting into the next gear to claim a bigger piece of the pie in the smartphone market."
To get a bigger piece of the pie, Opera Software feels it needs to move away from its in-house engine and embrace WebKit, the same as used by Safari (Apple) and Chrome (Google). The somewhat shocking announcement could lead to a more standards-compliant web, as WebKit will drive three major browsers when the transition is complete.
"The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need," says CTO of Opera Software, Håkon Wium Lie. "It makes more sense to have our experts working with the open source communities to further improve WebKit and Chromium, rather than developing our own rendering engine further. Opera will contribute to the WebKit and Chromium projects, and we have already submitted our first set of patches: to improve multi-column layout."
Not everyone is stoked about Opera Software's decision to embrace WebKit, which brings the web closer to a monolithic experience. Mozilla's Robert O'Callahan called the announcement "disappointing" and a "sad day" for the web at large.
"I thought highly of their Presto engine and their Web standards work. Their impact on Web standards will be dramatically reduced, especially where they want to do something differently to Apple and Google," O'Callahan stated in a blog post. "The big loss for the Web is a further decrease in the diversity of browser engines, especially on mobile devices. This means that our work at Mozilla simultaneously becomes more important --- we now have one of the three viable browser engines, instead of one of the four, and engine diversity is already critically endangered --- and more difficult, because this will strengthen the Webkit mobile monoculture and make it even harder for us to promote Web standards over 'coding to Webkit'."
What do you think about Opera switching to WebKit?