Opera Software, the Norwegian-based browser maker, today announced that some 12.5 million people downloaded Opera 10.10 within a week's time, shattering previous Opera records and marking an increase of 25 percent when compared to the download rates of Opera 10 launched two months ago.
"With such remarkable download numbers, I am confident that we truly appealed to the needs of the Web-using public. Opera 10.10 is visually more compelling, and technologically speaking, it goes where no browser has gone before," said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. "We believe that, over time, Opera Unite has the power to erase preconceptions of how we access and share information on the Web."
Including the latest downloads, Opera now resides on the desktops of 45 million active Web surfers. That doesn't include the millions of mobile Opera users surfing the Web from their handheld devices and game consoles.
Opera's most recent download numbers are pretty impressive when you consider that version 10.10 is an incremental update. But in addition to Internet Explorer and Firefox, it will also face stiff competition from Chrome, which inches ever closer to offering extensions support to the general public.
The method is simple: pop up a ‘ballot’ that lists browsers options and let the user choose. While simple browser makers didn’t see it as fair. (Except, perhaps, for Apple.) The list of browsers, complete with icons, was presented alphabetically. That meant “Apple Safari” always appeared at the top of the list. Since users can be lazy, the top browser on the list has a decided advantage, which didn’t set well with other browser makers: Google, Mozilla, Opera. The other browser makers also weren’t too happy with Microsoft using and IE-formatted web page to present the choice information.
Microsoft has decided it’s better to placate the whiners than to fight them. It has revamped the choice ballot so it is in a standard web page format, so no one has to see IE during the choice process, and will randomize the list of browsers for each installation.
The real victims, naturally, are the users. EU adopters of Windows 7 were forced to manually download a browser because the ballot selector screen wasn’t ready. Imagine the horror.
Originally intended as a separate download -- or at least released that way in beta form -- Opera Unite now comes bundled with the release of Opera 10.10 beta as a standard feature.
You can view a corny YouTube video of Unite here, which looks like it took a page from Microsoft's Launch Party video. If you want to give a whirl yourself, grab the download here.
In July, the European Commission and Microsoft finally reached some common ground in their protracted dispute over the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows, when Microsoft finally assented to the Commission’s favorite solution: a browser ballot. But the European Commission wants to make sure that the proposed browser ballot doesn’t eventually turn out be a well thought out artifice.
"Microsoft has cunningly found a way to accept the commission's suggestion of a ballot screen, but to do so in a way that will be entirely ineffective," ECIS's lawyer, Thomas Vinje, told the WSJ. Ironically, Microsoft plans to offer the ballot screen from within Internet Explorer. Though not opposed to the idea, Mozilla wants it to be modified.
In a three-way cage match, LifeHacker threw Chrome 4, Firefox 3.5, and Opera 10 into the ring and let the three browsers duke it out to see which would emerge as the fastest app for surfing the web.
See the full results here, then hit the jump and tell us which browser you like best.
Mozilla (Firefox), Microsoft (Internet Explorer), Apple (Safari), and Google (Chrome) have all recently released new browser versions for the next-gen browser wars, and soon Opera will join the pack. In the meantime, Opera Software today announced the first release candidate for Opera 10.
"The release candidate pushes us closer to the final launch of Opera 10," said Jan Standal, VP of Desktop Products, Opera. "We paid special attention to the mail client, which is one of our most enduring and popular features."
According to Opera Software, the RC is feature complete and sports a fresh look, a new application icon, and of course improved speed and performance over previous versions, up to 40 percent faster than Opera 9.6, the software maker claims. Other new features include an inline spell-checker, automated crash reporting, Web integration for email, a resizable search field, RSS Feed previews, and more.
Interested in giving Opera 10 a spin? Grab your copy here, or chill out until September 1st when the final version is expected to launch.
Last week we reported on the new concessions Microsoft was proposing to the EU in the hopes of quelling its ongoing antitrust battles in Europe. The solution was a simple ballot screen pushed out as a “high priority” Windows Update, but what we didn’t know at the time is that it will also be sent out to computers running Windows XP and Vista as well.
The exact lineup of browsers hasn’t been finalized yet, but it is said to include 10 of “the most widely-used web browsers that run on Windows with a usage share of equal to or more than 0.5% in the European Economic Area”. Oddly enough, it’s still not even clear if Opera meets these requirements and given that they are the ones responsible for the antitrust woes facing Microsoft, would be bitter justice.
Opera officials overjoyed with the concessions, but never resting on their laurels, are said to now be pushing for an “icon-less ballot screen”. I suppose they are concerned that many users associate the “blue E” icon with “internet” and it still gives an unfair advantage to Microsoft. They are also said to be asking that this browser ballot be pushed out worldwide, but I somehow doubt Microsoft will take this approach. The browser ballot screen will include two links, one to the manufacturers website where they can learn more and an extra link directly to a download server.
Given the amazing amount of concessions being made by Microsoft, is Opera being unreasonable by asking for more?
"The European Commission can confirm that Microsoft has proposed a consumer ballot screen as a solution to the pending antitrust case,” EU revealed in a statement.
Microsoft had been hoping EU would allow it to ship Windows without a browser. EU had agreed to this solution when bundling of Windows Media Player was at issue, but the results proved that it was just a ruse. Had EU lent its seal of approval to Microsoft’s favorite solution, the company would have found it very easy to influence OEMs.
As we close up yet another month of freeware goodies, it's important to look back and reflect on some of the awesome programs that received a version bump in the past 30 days. It was tough to nail down five free applications that not only upgraded themselves to a new iteration, but ones that successfully packed new and interesting features into their latest builds. There's no overarching theme this week save for that. It's a grab-bag of awesome new software to install; if the lack of a unifying concept horrifies you, don't worry. I'll list out all of this month's freeware roundups in the article below, which you can use as a guide of-sorts to travel back to safer downloading waters.
Click the upgrade button (okay, the jump) and check out the best of this month's updated freeware!
Last night, Opera released an alpha build of Opera Unite and, to hear them tell it, reinvented the internet in the process. With a claim as big as that, we think it's important to take a good, hard look at Opera Unite
—what is it, what can it do, and will it really change the way we use the web?
So first, what is Opera Unite? Basically, it's a version of the Opera browser with built-in server software, which allows users of Opera Unite to send data (everything from text to multimedia) directly to other people on the web, even if they're using a different browser, and all without having to upload anything to a traditional server. Opera's billing this as a way to get free yourself from the tyranny of the datacenter, allowing you to share pictures without having to put them on a strangers computer, network socially without having to subject yourself to Facebook's terms of service, collaborate without relying on the Google Docs server and so on and so forth.