Opera now has 300 million users; moving to WebKit engine

The Opera web browser has always been something of an also-ran in terms of its popularity on Windows PCs. Net Applications shows the current version of the desktop browser, Opera 12, has just a 1.47 percent market share, well behind Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari. However, Opera has gained more users as a browser for mobile phones and smartphones.

Today, Opera Software announced both a major milestone as well as a huge change for the rendering engine that the browser uses. First, the company revealed that the various versions of the Opera web browser have now collected a total of 300 million users. Jars Boilesen, the CEO of Opera Software, added, "On the final stretch up to 300 million users, we have experienced the fastest acceleration in user growth we have ever seen."

Opera Software also announced that future versions of the browser will make the transition to the WebKit and Chromium engine, which is used for Google's Chrome browser and Apple's Safari program. Opera Software had previously been using its own Presto rendering engine for its browser.

The company's chief technology officer Håkon Wium Lie stated today, "It makes more sense to have our experts working with the open source communities to further improve WebKit and Chromium, rather than developing our own rendering engine further."

Opera Software plans to demo its upcoming Android browser as part of its activities for the World Mobile Congress trade show later this month.

Source: Opera | Image via Opera

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I do welcome Operas move. The recent version of opera somehow was slow for me. At the same time I honestly hate to have chrome on my machine that keeps calling google now and then. So Opera with webkit is a welcome move for me. I cannot use Safari cause Apple hardly updates Safari on Windows and Safari is more insure browser I feel. There is another browser called Maxthon which comes with 2 rendering engines (Webkit and Trident) but it is chines browser that worries me more than sending my data to google.

Opera switching to WebKit does not mean it will look like an open source Chromium. What it means now is that you get to see more websites in it's intended look and also you get the special Opera features with a popular engine.

Why on earth would they switch to Webkit? Makes no sense as this will drive them into irrelevance when they'll just be one among those many Chromium-based browsers.

To be honest, most of their users probably won't care or notice the browser engine has changed. Ideally, they'll see less broken sites. That is something visible they can see.

Weissmeister said,
Not anymore, apparently. There's really no reason for Opera to exist any longer, I'm afraid.

Because?
So why bother having FF and Chrome? Why not just one of those too?

Choice is good and Opera's innovation hasn't primarily been about the browser engine but many of the UI/workflow enhancements that dominate ALL browsers today..

Its just Microsoft who is left behind. come on Microsoft Use web-kit on IE and let us web developers celebrate for a day and let us along with every internet user live in peace

How can good "web developers" (not those crappy ones that only use proprietary extensions...) welcome that we're getting another extremely dominant layout engine?

What has happend to all the open standards talk? The standards compliant web was THE thing when Trident was dominant, but all of a sudden nobody cares that WebKit is dominant...

S3P€hR said,
Its just Microsoft who is left behind. come on Microsoft Use web-kit on IE and let us web developers celebrate for a day and let us along with every internet user live in peace

what are you smoking dude?

webkit is vastly inferior to IE10 on graphical performance and power efficiency (better battery life with IE than chrome)

furthermore google/apple seem to care more about quantity of standards supported than quality of the implementation.

http://samples.msdn.microsoft.com/ietestcenter/

chrome still fails at a lot of w3c html test cases despite the fact these tests are almost a year old. (even though these tests were created by MS, they have been certified by the w3c as tools that help to measure the proper implementation of web standards)

even in JS performance IE10 is still better than chrome at a benchmark designed by google itself.
http://www.neowin.net/news/mic...rnet-still-takes-fist-place
and even more performant on the same benchmark with css3 animations added (robohornet pro).
webkit based browsers struggle with rendering performance when doing lot of JS operations. IE10 has proved to be much more efficient than chrome.


so, no thanks, no webkit for IE users

Its just Microsoft who is left behind. come on Microsoft Use web-kit on IE and let us web developers celebrate for a day and let us along with every internet user live in peace

Were you one of the people celebrating when trident was the only web engine in the world? Probably not. And if you were well you probably learnt your lesson after IE6.

S3P€hR said,
Its just Microsoft who is left behind. come on Microsoft Use web-kit on IE and let us web developers celebrate for a day and let us along with every internet user live in peace

Lol pays to keep things like that to yourself on a tech site

S3P€hR said,
Its just Microsoft who is left behind. come on Microsoft Use web-kit on IE and let us web developers celebrate for a day and let us along with every internet user live in peace

So you like the idea of a monopolistic concept for all browser engines? (Notice how well that worked for IE5/IE6 when its 'standards' were rejected because of pressure from Sun and IBM and caused non-standard web development to dominate the web and still has impact in corporate intranet environments.) It doesn't even matter that 5-10 years later, the IE standards were adopted as the syntax varied from the original Microsoft proposals that IE5/6 implemented.

So you like keeping the 'old' concept of Application - Document Rendering model rather than the new concepts introduced by Microsoft that are a Compile - Run model?

So treating CSS and HTML and even HTTP retrieval in the context of an application model that shoves a site closer to native code performance and moves from rendering HTML to turning HTML into an application that is compiled and ran is something Microsoft should abandon?

Webkit - aka as implemented by Google and Apple are STRUGGLING to get even 1/100th the CSS3/HTML5 performance that IE9/10 delivers.

They are faced with either adopting the 'newer' IE compile/run model with a complete rewrite of a Webkit variation or bypassing HTML5 standards (with things like WebGL); just to get respectable performance.

http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/

These are 'standard' CSS3/HTML5 example sites. The majority of them run 10 to even 1000 times faster on IE than on Chrome or Firefox. Some of these examples run faster on a 1ghz WP7 with IE9 than they do on an Core i7 desktop with Chrome or Firefox.

With the 'new' compile/run model that IE uses, not only is it more efficient and utilizes cores and GPU assets better than the 'old' model, but also provides a 'consistent' experience across various classes of hardware so a 'phone' or a 'netbook' will get usable FPS with rather rich newer content.

Go look up the IE and 'research' articles/blogs/papers on moving the Web closer to the hardware and treating HTML/CSS like code as the natural progression of the future of web browsing that yields a massive jump in performance.

So does IE get the best Sunspider (a test developed for WebKit), no; however, in real world examples and in newer graphically rich and dynamic HTML5 content, it is trampling webkit based browsers.

I think they can still keep their javascript engine intact with some modifications, plus the browser UI and some of the non-core additions such as Turbo and Link. Not sure about their graphics library, and also if they can preserve Dragonfly.

It doesn't say, but I suspect their differentiation will be through their UI and their JavaScript engine? I think it will be hard for anyone to beat either Google or Microsoft there, but best of luck to them.

This could be interesting, but I agree with most others: Opera actually had very strong web standards support, so I am surprised to see them do this. There's now even less reason to use them unless they come out with some nifty extra features.

This could be a good thing for web standards, as it means that Opera will be putting forward the technology it has developed into WebKit. At the same time it also means less competition in terms of rendering engines. At least it gives people a credible alternative to Chrome, for those like me who dislike Firefox and IE.

That's good, so long as people don't become lazy and we can start to move past the -webkit-* CSS implementations to use the real implementation. I've seen too many sites that look great with WebKit, and sometimes in Firefox, but they do not actually fall back to the real web implementation (e.g., "-webkit-border-radius" is the WebKit engine's experimentation of "border-radius" similar to "-ms-border-radius" for Microsoft's engine, which web developers realized was a bad practice years ago, but they have fallen back into the trap).

Tekkerson said,
Just because you change the engine of the car doesn't mean it changes the chassis or feel of the car ;D What an exaggeration...
stupid car reference, changing the engine does change the car and the feel of it.

Tekkerson said,
Just because you change the engine of the car doesn't mean it changes the chassis or feel of the car ;D What an exaggeration...

this is more like ripping out the engine and changing the interior, essentially chrome with a modified frame. one step closer to webkit domination...

primexx said,
yea, things are getting too uniform for comfort. i really hope webkit doesn't become the next IE6

unfortunately, it already has, on the mobile side of the web
http://m.cnet.com/news/w3c-co-...ng-open-web-crisis/57373764

the situation is worst than with ie6, as MS and Mozilla will have to add support for -webkit prefix in their browsers because webmasters have massively used draft standard implementations without even bothering testing with other browsers, even those who support the final non-prefixed version of the same standards. If it works with the iPhone, then webmasters don't care about their site using non standard features.

ACTIONpack said,
It was at one point but not anymore.

It was still the best browser for multi-tab browsing on low memory + low CPU devices.
Now you can choose either memory efficiency with Firefox, or CPU efficiency with Chrome/Opera, you can't get both anymore.

Presto had it's place, and it's a shame to see it gone.

gonchuki said,

It was still the best browser for multi-tab browsing on low memory + low CPU devices.
Now you can choose either memory efficiency with Firefox, or CPU efficiency with Chrome/Opera, you can't get both anymore.

Presto had it's place, and it's a shame to see it gone.

Firefox is now the memory efficient one now? The world sure has changed.

KSib said,

Firefox is now the memory efficient one now? The world sure has changed.


It has been for a long time, the trend started around 1 year ago when Firefox 7 launched, then solidified for Firefox 10.
Chrome can take up to 2gb of ram for a 30 tab browser session (which is not that many tabs, specially if you are doing research or reading tvtropes).
Just to confirm I went to my work laptop and counted: 1.6GB or ram consumption for Chrome on a 28 tab session, 1.8GB for Firefox in a 67 tab session that spans across two windows (I work building web applications, that's why I have those many tabs), and that is having an almost extension-free Chrome, and the regular Firebug + ColorZilla + Mouse Gestures and other addons on Firefox (I have around 15 addons).
Memory growth in Chrome is almost linear, as it uses one process per tab. That means that the 67 tab session could easily be touching 4GB, if not more (for example GMail, Reader and G+ take around 100MB per tab in Chrome).

Edited by gonchuki, Feb 14 2013, 12:01pm :