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A Talk With Opera CEO 229

With several new areas of expansion for Opera The Register took a few minutes to talk to Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner. The interview addresses several of the most recent news items on the Opera front including, the adoption to Nintendo's Wii console, several advocates switching to Firefox, and others. "We just try to focus on our side. We've always focused on a somewhat richer interface. We've had a lot of negative comments ourselves over the years; for example, when we introduced tabbed browsing a lot of people said it doesn't make sense. We've introduced things like zooming, mouse gestures and the like - and we find they find their way into other browsers; tabs found their way into IE7. We are being copied, but we would like to focus on features and giving users a good experience."
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A Talk With Opera CEO

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Interfeeoo Sume-a ooff Oopere's lung-term bets ere-a begeenning tu pey ooffff. Zee Nurvegeeun veb peeuneer hes infested in TF und mubeele-a fur yeers, und noo Neentendu's heet Veei cunsule-a hes poot Oopera intu mure-a thun ieeght meelliun leefing ruums. Um gesh dee bork, bork! Meeni hes mede-a zee veb useble-a oon meelliuns mure-a phunes. Um gesh dee bork, bork! Und zee must recent mejur releese-a ooff FureFux hes beee met veet pooshbeck oon its perffurmunce-a, usebeelity, und secooreety. Bork bork bork
  • by AskChopper ( 1077519 ) * on Sunday August 19, 2007 @10:41PM (#20289671) Homepage
    The above URL links to page 3 of the article. Here's the fist page terview/ []
  • by WK2 ( 1072560 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @10:54PM (#20289759) Homepage

    We've introduced things like [tabs] - and we find they find their way into other browsers; tabs found their way into IE7. We are being copied...

    Translation: We did tabs, damnit! Not Firefox! I repeat: Firefox did not do tabs first! It was us!!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      you know it's just as annoying to copy someone by doing everything right before they do, right?
    • Han: "But dammit, I shot first! First I tell you! It wasn't Greedo! What do I have to do so you all believe me?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I have a feeling that Opera was not the first browser to do tabs; a browser called NetCaptor was one of the first to do so in 1997. For a detailed account, see here [].
      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )
        The first I know of was the GNN browser, supplied with AOL's dial-up service, GNN. This was back in the Windows 3.1 days, so early 90's. IE didn't even exist.
    • Re:Firefox tabs (Score:5, Informative)

      by ceeam ( 39911 ) on Monday August 20, 2007 @03:24AM (#20290823)
      Tabs or no tabs but Opera had an MDI browser back in ~1994.
      • I think AOL may have beat Opera to the punch on that by at least a year. I don't recall ever having used opera back then, so it makes it difficult to compare them from an MDI standpoint, but I do remember using the original Mosaic browser. It was pretty exciting at the time - came with a book and everything.

        On another note, who the heck likes MDIs anyhow? Personally I find the design annoying as it tends to waste a great deal of screen real estate (especially back then when 800x600 on a 14" monitor was con
        • by hkmwbz ( 531650 )

          who the heck likes MDIs anyhow?
          Apparently a lot of people since even IE has MDI these days. Yes, "tabbed browsing" is just MDI. MDI is "Multiple Document Interface", and there are lots of ways to present those. Tabs in browsers being one.
          • by toriver ( 11308 )
            In particular, tabs = MDI with the internal "Window" menu expanded inside the frame.

            I remember all the flak Opera users got for the MDI from Netscape and IE user back then (around ver. 2.12 which was the first I bought)... funny how things change. The main reason the Mosaic family (Netscape pre-6, IE pre-4) didn't use MDI was just that it was an X11 codebase and X11 did not use the MDI paradigm.

            Plus, later Operas let you use one window per document instead, if you so desire. Or mix tabs and separate windows
        • I like MDIs. More precisely, if I can have more than one "thing" open in one instance of a program, I like being able to look at more than one of them at a time. Sometimes it's just nice to be able to look at two things side by side.

          I'd say it's probably one of the top 10 reasons I use Opera over Konqueror or Firefox. And one of the top five reasons I despise Eclipse.

          Personal preference, I guess.

          • I like MDIs. More precisely, if I can have more than one "thing" open in one instance of a program, I like being able to look at more than one of them at a time

            The problem with doing this with Wondows-style MDI is that you have a huge opaque window that contains both of them. This is fine if you are only using one application, but is very wasteful of screen real-estate, or places irritating restrictions on window position, if you are using more than one.

            Windows MDI began as a copy of the Mac user interface, which doesn't have this problem since every 'MDI' application is maximised with a transparent root main window (i.e. document windows are free-floating, a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 19, 2007 @10:55PM (#20289777)
    In Russia, Ukraine and in Northern and East European countries we have between five per cent and 10 per cent, and some above 10 per cent share; Japan similar.

    Trouble is, in America most people think that going to the opera is for losers. Maybe they should call it "Rock 'n Roll Browser" in the US.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 19, 2007 @11:55PM (#20290059)

      I think a lot of the hatred for Opera stems from the fact that they messed up the cool naming scheme for major browsers. First you discover somewhere, then you explore it, then you conquer it, then you go there for fun. Navigator -> Explorer -> Konqueror -> Safari. I think it bodes well for the browser I'm developing right now, OverdevelopedHolidayResort.

      • by MrNaz ( 730548 )
        Hey, there's no problem with putting an opera house when enough people come there for safari. Just look, it worked for Sydney!
      • by Kelson ( 129150 ) *

        Navigator -> Explorer -> Konqueror -> Safari.

        Or maybe they should have named it after a car.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      Trouble is, in America most people think that going to the opera is for losers. Maybe they should call it "Rock 'n Roll Browser" in the US.

      I don't think so - they'll think you can win, free.

  • I do not use Opera these days, but used it from 2000/2001. Those days, the Firefox browser, then called Phoenix or so really sucked! Question though...Are these Opera guys really making money off Opera? The Firefox folks are not doing badly with their product. How are Opera doing?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by scorchypoo ( 961199 )
      They're one of the market leader in mobile and embedded browsers. They're also selling copies of browsers on the Nintendo DS and Wii. The desktop is only a small part of their business.
    • by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @11:45PM (#20290015) Homepage
      They have multiple income streams. As noted in the interview, Opera, like Firefox, makes money from google and other search engines.

      And, as the browser for the Wii and the DS, I'm sure that Nintendo is giving them a nice amount of money.
      • They're also getting quite big among smartphones and even phone operators.

        Opera Mobile is shipped on more than 50 million handsets from from the major mobile phone manufacturers and operators worldwide.
  • by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @11:41PM (#20289989)
    Just a few days ago, I had the existing AT&T DSL service switched over to my name. Although I didn't need new equipment, AT&T said they needed to disconnect the service for four days, after which it would take an additional four days after registration under my name to reconnect the same service. Because they didn't send me any hardware, I never received an installation CD. (Not that I ever intended to defile my system with their awful installer.) When I called up AT&T tech support, the woman was relatively clueless--I pretty much walked myself through the process. But there was one hitch: Using either Firefox or Safari (IE was discontinued for the Mac), I could not register a new DSL username in their system. The hardware and network setup were working perfectly; something about AT&T's (aka Yahoo!/SBC) online registration system, however, required that I use IE. And as a long-time Apple user, I would switch to cable modem before I'd install "malware" on my machine. It then came to me to try Opera. I downloaded a copy on my PowerBook through a nearby free access point (I love that place--best danishes I've ever had). And it worked. Obviously, AT&T is to blame, but am I ever relieved that Opera came through for me. Granted, I've gone back to using Firefox, but just in case, I've kept Opera on my system.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Rebelgecko ( 893016 )
      Try entering

      defaults write IncludeDebugMenu 1
      into the Terminal (when Safari isn't open) and changing your user agent (Debug->User Agent) to Internet Explorer. Most sites that "require" a certain browser will work in Safari.
    • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

      IE was discontinued for the Mac

      Word, but it's still available, and you can still run it on Mac OS X.

      • But its only similarity to Windows IE is the name.

        Unless you're talking about running IE under WINE, which should work fine.
        • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

          But its only similarity to Windows IE is the name.

          True, and it was a hell of a lot better than the Windows version, a lot. But I'd expect that what only runs on Windows IE to work on Mac IE..

  • by intx13 ( 808988 ) on Monday August 20, 2007 @12:00AM (#20290087) Homepage
    I always enjoy interviews with Jon Von Tetzchner - he comes across as a very forthright, positive, motivated CEO - and he's pretty good natured [] to boot. Contrast that with recent interviews with Linus, who's opinion on certain matters everyone respects but comes across a bit too sassy to make an enjoyable read, or major company CEOs, who sound more like company brochures than people.

    I used to use Firefox over Opera because I could install Firefox with one command under Linux. Now that Opera is available in the same way, I find that I still choose Firefox, mostly because it's what I'm used to. I feel like Opera is just a tad too late to the party to really take off in a big way - had they made their product as easy to get and as visible as Firefox way back when (what with a website that auto-detects the correct package and provides a big easy-to-click button, prepackaged binaries for Linux, advertising, etc.) the bite marks in IE could be twice as big as they are now. Of course this doesn't mean that Opera has no chance - the world is plenty big enough for three or four major browsers - and they're certainly making a dent in the off-PC market.

    Good luck to them, and the next time Firefox fails to download quite as promptly as I like maybe I'll give Opera another go! In the meantime, just keep getting interviews like this one out there and visible and Opera will keep growing.
    • Late to the party?? I've been using Opera for ten years! I'd say it's more like the rest of the world that's late to the party.
      • I do believe he means one that's free and has no advertising. Which has been since Opera 8.5 came out in late 2005.
    • I started using Opera back around 2001. At the time, navigating to their site from Linux would give you a page with RPMs, and you could just select the one you wanted (or the binary tarball, with statically linked Qt). On FreeBSD, all you've needed to do is install the 'opera' port (portinstall opera, or cd /usr/ports/www/opera && make install clean).
  • by Bellum Aeternus ( 891584 ) on Monday August 20, 2007 @01:41AM (#20290489)
    In my company we have a 'reports' web page that generates a list of items sold to whom, where, and when with in a given time frame (specified by the viewer). Needless to say the resulting page can be huge, literally ten of thousands of table rows long by dozens wide for even a short time span (a full year cannot be rendered on a typical workstation because of memory limitations, think 5+ million rows) - so far only Opera is capable of copying the data to the clip board for pasting into something like Access (god save me). IE and Firefox both choke (lock up and crash) on such a large select and copy when using a machine with less than 2GB of RAM.

    I don't know what they do differently in Opera, but they do it right - and it's gotten them a number of new users in my company's administrative offices to boot.

    • This is going way offtopic, but I can't help but ask why you've got a system that generates a HTML document of that size. HTML isn't designed for that sort of thing, you should either be splitting it into multiple pages (can be done using some basic arithmetic) or, better still, using a dedicated reports system from a decent database (i.e. not Access). If you're going to print it out at all you'd need to do something like this anyway.

    • by Kelson ( 129150 ) *
      I'll agree on this. I've found that, at least on Linux, the typical MySpace page (I check referrers, okay?) tends to be much more responsive in Opera than in Firefox. On the other hand, random pages on Digg and my bookmarks slow Opera to a crawl, but Firefox is fine. So even though both browsers will display a page, performance is wildly different, and neither browser manages to come out on top 100% of the time.
  • by slobarnuts ( 666254 ) on Monday August 20, 2007 @01:41AM (#20290493) Homepage
    Let me know when Opera goes Open Source, because, for the love of god, I can not upset Virtual Richard M. Stallman []. Who am I kidding, I probably still wouldn't use it if it were, I am just a Firefox groupie or something.
    • vrms seems a bit outdated. Example output:

      huh, user@machine:~$ vrms [...] xaralx Heavyweight vector graphics, illustration and DTP Prog

      Xara Xtreme is GPL []

  • I personally use and like Opera because it comes with the stuff I always use to have to install otherwise with Firefox built-in. Things like interactive ad blocking, the download manager, locking tabs, and so on. It's a lot of nice features without bloating the browser, and still feels lighter than Firefox to me, with the base Opera files without the profile being around 5 MB here *after* install, excluding a user profile and localization files that come with some versions.
  • by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <frogbert@gmail. c o m> on Monday August 20, 2007 @02:57AM (#20290715)
    The only problem I have with using Opera is that there is just no substitute for Adblock plus, something that allows me to subscribe to a list of blocked urls and html and have it do its thing in the background. If someone has found one please let me know.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2007 @03:14AM (#20290787)
    • by FsG ( 648587 )
      Actually, Proxomitron [] is a perfect substitute for Adblock plus. It's essentially a personal web proxy that uses regular expression rules to rewrite web pages before you see them. It comes with a set of filters that'll drop most ads. If you want a better list of rules for it, you should get Sidki's filter set []. Using this along with proxomitron gives me more ad protection than Adblock plus offers, along with *much* more flexibility on exactly what to filter and rewrite in web pages.
      • I used Proxomitron back in 2004 and somehow it managed to create 8000 hits in one hour to /. when I rearranged the panels on the main page. This resulted in me getting banned from Slashdot. Not funny, I can assure you! This came to light after an e-mail exchange with Robert Rozeboom from /. (if you're still working there: thanks Robert!). I found out it was Proxomitron because when I had it active my firewall indicated very heavy network traffic, which did not occur when proxomitron was bypassed.
        Of course t
    • Meh, I don't see the appeal of subscribing to someone's list... Privoxy [] has a near-perfect built-in filter, cleans out a lot more crap, and it's easy enough to add blocks for the few things that slip through.
  • Opera rocks. (Score:2, Insightful)

    It's truely the only cross platform browser there is.

    I can have Opera on Windows, Opera on my Mobile, Opera on my Wii, Opera on my PS3.

    As soon as they sort out having bookmarks shared between all of these, seamlessly, then it's a no brainer.
  • Tabbed Browsing (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Monday August 20, 2007 @07:33AM (#20291617)
    It really annoys me when people claim that Opera or Mozilla introduced tabbed browsing. I know /. will love to hear it, but AOL was the first that I've seen. Their GNN browser in the early 90's had tabbed browsing. It was even able to load multiple tabs at once on Windows 3.1, an OS w/o threads. I remember having a dozen or more tabs open at once, several of them loading simultaneously, on a machine with 4MB of ram.
  • by Tronster ( 25566 ) on Monday August 20, 2007 @09:49AM (#20292369) Homepage
    I currently run Firefox on my home PC, home Mac, home Mac-mini, and wife's computer.

    Just last week I switched to Opera at work, after learning one of my, well respected, co-workers was using it for browsing. Ever year or so I'd done a "switch" for a day, but always went back to Firefox. I think this time the switch to Opera is going to stay.

    Seems Opera is on par to all the features I've come to rely on in Firefox (tabs, mouse gestures, adblocking, tabbed download info), except that they are all baked into the browser instead of needing to be added in. The tight integration, shows in many subtle ways (e.g., where options are presented in the menus, etc...) that makes the overall product feel more polished. The smaller memory foot-print, faster (perceived?) UI response, and better standards compliance all make me feel more comfortable than the browser I've been advocating to friends the last 7+ years.

    The lack of Open Source use to bug me, but not any more; I don't see myself ever becoming involved in the source code. I truely believe the money behind Opera is what has contributed to it being such a great product.

    - Built in tabs (I don't care who was first, I care if there are tabs in the current version.)
    - Built in tabbed download status
    - Built in mouse gestures
    - Built in ad-blocking
    - Built in FULL full screen
    - Built in "Speed Dial" feature (neat idea!)
    - Better CSS2 compliance than Firefox or IE
    - A solid bookmark manager
    - Smaller (than Firefox) memory footprint

    Another week of test driving this at work, and then my home computers are switching over too.
  • Security (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Britz ( 170620 ) on Monday August 20, 2007 @10:23AM (#20292613)
    The lower the marketshare, the lower the chance that your browser ist targeted by malware authors. Since Firefox is gaining at such a great speed I have started to advise Windows users to use Opera for security reasons. Other than for security neither Firefox, IE7, nor Opera make a difference for the casual PC user.

    Personally I use Iceweasel, because it comes directly from my good ol' trusted repository, but I also have Opera installed and use it as a secondary browser for sites that don't work in Firefox. I also prefer the cookie management in Firefox to that in Opera. Opera used to be way ahead, but they stopped making progress on that front a long time ago. Though I realize that privacy is more of a myth now with special Flash and Java supercookies and the likes that never show up anywhere.

Happiness is twin floppies.