A few days ago, Opera Software celebrated their 10th anniversary and gave away free subscriptions to Opera, one of the last remaining commercial browsers. Though they offer a freely downloadable version, buying the license removes the ad bar at the top, making it a very lean, mean browser. It also still claims to be the “fastest browser in the world”, which appears to be very true.
I was an avid Opera user for quite some time and even paid for a license as soon as the Linux version was released. Then I had a few problems with Opera using up too many resources and once my financial crunch hit, I didn’t bother to renew the license. For the last couple of years, I’ve stuck with whatever has come out from Mozilla and loved it. Firefox has been my browser of choice for a while and it is what I always recommend to others.
Once I got the free Opera subscription, I decided to give it a try and as of now, Opera has replaced Firefox as my main browser. Main reason? I just love the “Continue from last time” feature and can’t live without it.
The one thing that really drives me mad about browsing is when the power goes and I end up losing valuable articles, sites or documents that I have open. Due to time constraints, I usually open all sites that I find interesting and come back to them as soon as there’s time, which might be in a couple of hours or days. At any given moment, I have at least 15-20 sites open and in case of a crash or power outage, all this is lost. Though crashes are very rare, my UPS has trouble keeping things running for more than a few minutes so this is a problem.
Opera, by default, will remember where you were and start things exactly from that point. I tried searching for a Firefox extension that would do this, but didn’t find anything that worked and in-built support is planned for version 2, but that still seems far. Now, I can be content that I can start from where I left off.
Speed and the great memory aren’t the only things that Opera does better than the others. Consistently, it has been the first to make use of nifty features such as tabbed browsing, mouse gestures and popup blocking. It now has native support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVGs), again something that is not in the stable release of Firefox and only works in IE through a plugin. Adobe provides a Firefox SVG extension, but few have seen it work.
Firefox, after I have it open for a few days, starts eating up lots of memory (sometimes fixed by power outages). Opera may be just as bad, but the current version has been ok
The above is not meant to be a plug for Opera or demeaning of Firefox. I still love Firefox and will continue to use it alongside Opera, but there are things that the latter just does a lot better. Best of luck to the Firefox team and I hope the open source browser soon has everything needed to surpass, or at least match, the upcoming IE 7.