The Fat Lady Inhales

28/05/2013 //

I just downloaded the alpha of Opera 15, the major new release that sees the Norwegian browser maker dump its own Presto rendering engine in favour of Google’s Blink, the webkit fork that in absolutely no way is Google’s nascent way of cock-blocking Apple’s Safari and ensuring Chrome is the IE of the new millennium.

The good:

  • Still seems fast
  • Splash page can do folders
  • More extensions of actual use to me
  • Facebook actually works
  • Added Safari-like read-later feature

The bad:

  • The e-mail client is gone
  • The customization options are gone
  • RSS reader … gone
  • Notes … gone
  • IRC … you guessed it, gone
  • Tab grouping has been removed

The built-in email client has apparently been discontinued “by popular demand”, which I frankly find hard to believe, but perhaps those of us who liked it were a minority. Apparently, there’s a stand-alone mail client coming along. Whee.

I’ve also enjoyed being able to move the tab section around in the past, another feature that’s apparently gone. Tabs now either go on top, on top, or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, on top. This is annoying, because being able to stick the tab section on the side was great.

The loss of the RSS reader should hit me harder than it has, but since Opera never bothered to add your RSS streams to Opera Sync, it killed some of its usefulness. Still, at least there’s a Feedly extension available.

Granted, this is just the alpha release, so a lot can change. I don’t see much point in Opera keeping many developers on if all they’re going to do is skin Chromium, so I have to assume they have something else up their sleeve. And hopefully not just an acqui-hire.

I can certainly understand why Opera had to make the switch, if it meant ensuring survival and growing market share, but currently, it seems like all the things that made Opera unique are gone.

I think a a world with Opera is better than a world without, but if it means they have to follow Google’s lead slavishly, the fat lady really has sung.