A little out of date now…

Hello, likely browser-war-thread-link-follower! This is a little preface to the page below, which was written way back in April, 2005. What I’ve written still seems to be of interest to some, so it is preserved below.

I’m less of an Opera fan as I once was, as it seems that after version 7.5 (around when this was published) they started concentrating on their mobile and embedded browsers, and let the desktop app stagnate. I still use Opera heavily, and still think Mozilla, Apple and Microsoft are slower to innovate, but as Opera stopped developing non-gimmicky features I no longer feel the need to evangelise it.

ANYWAYI did attempt to revise it around the Opera 9 era but that version of the page is incomplete and not as well written as this one. You’re welcome to read that. I also think you should check out Firefox Myths and this web archive cache of Slyerfox, two sites that entertainingly attack Firefox (though they’re not always accurate, which kind of hurts my cause.) Firefox Fables is a highly amusing rebuttal from a Firefox fan.

Okay, that’s enough of an introduction. The page continues below! Forgive my simplistic early-2005 web design sensibilities.

Firefox sucks and Opera is better.

HEY FIREFOX USER! Your browser sucks and is lame. Don't get caught up in the hype, Opera has been around for a decade and manages to trounce Firefox in every conceivable aspect. I recommend you try out Opera and see how you like it - there's a good chance you will find it far more efficient, fun to use and very adapatable to the way you browse.

Why is this page being written? The free " Safer, Faster Better Firefox Badge" web browser Firefox is getting a lot of hype right now and it's mostly undeserved. It's bloated and slow, offers no real evolutionary features you'd expect from a modern browser, and has failed to produce any significant innovations since its inception a year or two ago. Why are you hearing about it, and why have you perhaps aligned yourself with the Firefox cause? It's new, shiny, mostly secure and has had a huge marketing push behind it. It's also "better than Internet Explorer". What I want to demonstrate here is that there's a fantastic browser available that's not just better than Internet Explorer, it sets the standards everyone else follows years later.

But first, let me deal with the two most often-brought-up Opera complaints:


Opera 8 Default Interface

Opera 7.5x had a terrible default interface. You could change it in less time than it takes to download the average Firefox extension, but alas. The new version of Opera 8 has a nice streamlined interface that doesn't suck. Check out the image on the right for Opera's initial Windows interface nowadays. That's not so bad, is it? And get this.. unlike other browsers, if you have any nitpicks you can change ANYTHING. Icon size. Toolbar arrangement. Button placement.

It's clean, simple, and open for customising. Don't like the Google search? Replace it with a "toggle proxy" button. Prefer your tabs on the left sometimes? Make it toggle back and forth with a keyboard key!

The perception that Opera is a memory hog is very misguided. It's the smallest, fastest proper browser available today. It's consistently smaller than Firefox, Mozilla, IE, even K-Meleon. A 3.6mb download, while including IRC, Mail, RSS, an Address book and a Newsgroups client, Opera hides the features until you need them and manages to give you the best of everything - the most features for any browser, the highest performance yet a clean interface and super-low memory usage.

And if that's not all..


Opera and Firefox Ad Comparison

This is the one valid complaint about Opera that I can't say much for. Do you pirate software? Shut up about it and pirate Opera. If you want to be honest, though, take a look to the right.. that's Opera with the default UI sitting next to Firefox with the default UI. Opera with ads shows the same amount of "page" as Firefox with no ads. The Google ads are unobtrusive and take up very little room.

Opera is not free for the full version with no ads. However, the free ad-supported version (used by over 90% of Opera users) is still a far superior browser to Firefox and serves well as an introduction - and if you like it a lot, you can enter into Opera's affiliate program whereby if you advertise Opera on your webpage you can get a free license after only 250 hits!

It is also important to note Opera's ads are not spyware or anything obtrusive or annoying. They render in a small quasi-toolbar using Opera's ultra-secure engine with no ad support files kept on your hard drive whatsoever.

So - Opera's interface is clean and easy to understand, it's incredibly fast and small, and the ads are about as unobtrusive as they could be. And there's more ways to get rid of them than paying the $39 registration fee.

But what's wrong with Firefox? I like it.

Except for it being bloated and slow, surely? Opera loads up far quicker than Firefox and offers snappier navigation to the internet with its sophisticated page caching system. It also steals less system resources while running.

What about the mess of extensions and extension settings you have to keep updated in addition to the browser? Wouldn't it be nicer to have all those features integrated into the browser with a consistent interface, no separate update path, and no security\stability risks related to running badly or maliciously coded extensions? Did you ever stop to check just how much RAM Firefox needs to run all those extensions alongside the browser itself?

How about the bland IE-clone interface last updated in 1998? Sure, it's comfortable and familiar, but haven't they come up with something better now? What's more, why can't you put what you want where you want in the browser? Perhaps Opera's innovations such as the Start Bar (a small set of frequently-used links that can appear when you click the address bar) and a smart, re-arrangeable MDI interface to view all sorts of information at the same time within the same window appeals to you? The idea of operating the web using "Fast Forward" and "Rewind" functions to jump from page to page using Opera's smart interpretation of the webpage currently loaded? Or simply just the underlying concept that you can pull out, rearrange, and create just about any function you like in any part of the interface?

Isn't that whole concept of pointing and clicking on links and buttons to do everything a bit outdated? Opera has the best keyboard navigation of any browser - totally customisable with an easy interface - that lets you jump from link to link with the cursor keys and toggle images on and off with a keypress? What about mouse gestures - why can't you easily flip back and forward without moving your hand from the mouse? Close tabs and navigate windows with a simple flick of your wrist?

In the time since Firefox 1.0, we've seen three security patches. In the time since Opera 7.54u2 (around the same timeframe) we've seen a revised interface, User Javascript support, extensive RSS support, medium-screen rendering, voice control, invisible user-agent spoofing, SVG support, and considerable speed improvements. Firefox 1.1 comes halfway through the year and it's supposed to.. add an easy "remove private information" function and slim down the rendering engine a bit. Hmm.

Firefox is okay for something simplistic that operates just fine on the web. If that works well enough for you, that's great. But if you use your internet browser a lot and can wrap your head around the idea that things might be even better if you explore your options a little, I feel Opera will offer you a lot more than the jump from IE to Firefox ever did. And if you're still stuck on IE - check out a browser that actually offers more than a handful of actual features to switch for!

Prove it.

Well, let's see. Weird Firefox zealots wave the accusation of bloatedness against Internet Explorer every day. It's also often used against Opera. Firefox is proclaimed as the alternative; streamlined, fast, and free of bloat. I wonder if they ever checked this out? It doesn't take much research to notice that this is quite a ridiculous claim.

It's worth noting that Firefox is based on Mozilla, a huge pile of bloat, which was based on Netscape Navigator, an even bigger pile of bloat. You hear zealots whine about how Gecko is a completely new rendering engine, XUL replacing the interface bloat of the Netscape days, blah blah blah.. but as it stands, Firefox, supposedly the slim, clean, snappy one of the bunch, is really about the same size as Internet Explorer, a big, chunky browser from last decade even when you consider that IE hides some of its bloat in the OS. Want proof? I did my own testing.

Web browser memory requirements (Windows 2000)
  Internet Explorer 6.0 Firefox 1.03 Opera 8.0
1. Initial load 12mb 16.6mb 12.6mb
2. Three open pages 18.7mb 21.4mb 18.6mb
3. Three open pages with three page loads each 23.9mb 26.1mb 23.8mb

Notes regarding tests: Homepage was set to www.google.com. Second test had three pages opened after initial loading, www.google.com, www.amazon.com, and www.ebay.com. Internet Explorer is at a disadvantage in the second two tests as it has to display the contents of each page while Opera and Firefox can hide the pages in tabs. Third test progresses from the second, but in each window a Google search was performed and result clicked on, an Amazon category clicked on and search performed and an eBay search performed and result clicked on. IE has the advantage of having the renderer integrated into the system but since you get that whether you want it or not there's no point differentiating.

Hmm! How interesting. Firefox all of a sudden doesn't look quite so hot, and IE looks a lot more tolerable than you may have been led to believe. In fact, in each test, Firefox scores the worst, with Opera generally sitting at the same low memory usage as IE. (Remarkably, in the second two tests, only 100kb comes between the two!)

Unconvinced that Opera is faster? Here's one extensive page that indicates Opera is pretty damn fast all round. Lowendmac's testing seems to indicate the same (they test Windows browsers too.) Opera "feels" faster. Opera has smarter page rendering code that delivers readable content faster. It takes up less CPU time to perform tasks - it's a lot more streamlined and efficient.

By the way: Firefox, after being installed, provides an initially basic, featureless browser with 14.4mb. Opera in comparison is a tiny 4.6mb and it does everything out of the box rather than requiring memory-hogging extensions and even a separate mail application.

And most importantly:

Opera-tan and Firefox-ko

Opera-tan is cuter. Well.. it's actually kinda close and would depend on personal preference. Just so you know and to give credit to the artists, here's Firefox-ko's source and Opera-tan's source.

So what's wrong with Opera?

Opera does have its shortcomings and yes, Firefox has its strengths. It's worth mentioning that, for example, Firefox has a great selection of extensions. Yes, these bloat up the browser over time and you sure do need a lot of extensions to emulate a lot of Opera's useful functionality, but there are a couple of useful features offered by extensions that Opera doesn't have right now. The most notable is Adblock, which does a pretty good job of filtering out advertisements from webpages. However Opera's multitude of features not available in Firefox more than compensate for the few extensions not immediately available in the Opera download.

Just for you Adblock fans out there - if you don't mind paying for\pirating a bit of additional software, Ad Muncher is the best ad blocking software for Windows available. Just like Opera, you pay a premium but get a more functional, easy to use and far more efficiently coded solution that works better than anything else. If you don't mind fiddling around, Privoxy is also a fine free alternative that can block ads quite effectively with a bit of tweaking. I do agree that Opera needs an inbuilt ad blocker, though, but these two pieces of software should help make up for it in the mean-time.

Opera like all applications has flaws, but generally the only issues you'll find in Opera are a result of your expectations being higher - why can't buttons be arranged on the side of the Personal bar, or why doesn't Opera implement site preferences like Omniweb? While Opera could be improved in many areas, there are very few flaws in Opera that are not present in other browsers.

But in conclusion:

Opera is the only sensible choice for a modern web browser on Windows. It stomps all over Firefox in just about every area possible and I hope that this page at least motivates you to download Opera and check it out. There's no serious problem with Opera these days unless you have weird obsessive open-source loyalties - it's faster, cleaner and better than all the competition.

Want some specific reasons to give Opera a shot before you're convinced? Here's a few.

Those are just a bunch of things that you'll probably enjoy while using Opera. It doesn't do anything revolutionary and magical, of course, but it's just polished in almost all areas, offering a more efficient, usable, interesting and enjoyable way to access the internet - seriously. You can do things faster and accomplish more with less effort - perhaps Firefox is "good enough", but why not try it out and go one step further?

Did I convince you? Then go straight ahead to Opera's download page (it'll check what OS you're using and give you a link to the latest version.)

Did I convince you in style? Rather, did you appreciate this webpage and want to help me out? Opera have this affiliate program where they give you a free license if you refer 250 people via your own link. I think it's important to disclose these things so this is the only link on the page I'll ever get anything out of - I began writing this page well before Opera put this promotion thing in place so please don't think this page was just for my own gain. I just want to fight back at the Firefox zealots, but if I can get a license to give to a friend who already pirates Opera, why not? Click to visit Opera.com through my referral link -you can download it here just the same! I appreciate your courtesy.


To Macintosh and Linux users.

Opera 8 Mac

To Mac users: I have an Powerbook and I run Opera on it quite happily. Previous versions of Opera for MacOS were terrible (this has affected Opera's reputation on Mac, sadly), but I urge you to give Opera 8 Mac Beta a chance as it's quite snappy and well on par with Firefox's port to MacOS, if not better. Safari has a faster UI, yes, but Opera is still much smaller, far more customisable and has far more features than Safari, which remains a very plain and uninteresting browser for the most part. I can pretty much wholeheartedly recommend Opera over Safari for advanced users - however Safari is a capable, well-supported browser that basic users may be happy to keep, and more power to them! It's great at being what it is.

To Linux users, get a decent OS. Oh, it's not like you guys use anything closed source anyway.

I am done! Please consider Opera. It really is better.

Page viewed best in Opera, haha just kidding. This propaganda piece written by SuitCase, feel free to send your petty arguments to the address above. You're future Opera zealot #4,605 and you might just be interested to know this page was last updated on the 22nd of April, 2005. (Well, 11th of February, 2009, but the content was written then. The hitcounter is frozen too, and represents hitcounts from April 2005 to February 2009, though it wasn’t operating the whole time.)