Since 2008, I've been using Opera as my main web browser. There were a few things I couldn't do on it - a few websites checked which browser you were using and stoutly refused to go any further if you were using Opera. For the main, it had a light memory footprint, was fast, had tabs and speeddials (which was relatively novel in 2008), and was high on standards compliance.
That has just changed. It's with great sadness that I finally say farewell to Opera.
All browsers have to have an engine - code that powers the process of turning the HTML spat out of a server into something you can see and interact with. In February, Opera announced that the next version of their browser would be powered by Chromium, the open-sourced engine that powers Chrome. At the beginning of July, they announced the release of Opera 15. (The previous version was 12.16. They skipped right over 13 because of triskaidekaphobia. They skipped 14 too because they had just released a Opera 14 for Android devices). Fortunately, they didn't force users of Opera 12 to upgrade the major version, so I could stay on 12.16.
What became clear is that Opera 15 is a totally new browser. Very like Chrome. With lots of the features that distinguished Opera missing. Without even features like Bookmarks (when it was first released). No IRC client. No Bookmarks. No Dragonfly (debugging tool). People would argue that those tools don't belong in the browser. With some of them, you may be right, but they are features I've learnt to use.
What's also become clear is that Opera 12 still has some major niggles to iron out. Every few days, my browser crashes entirely if I try to open Facebook. Those kinds of issues would never be resolved within Opera 12 - they would have needed the next major release. But now development on the old platform has all but ground to a halt. Opera's started to become a memory hog too - regularly using over 1 GB of RAM within a few hours of starting up. Again - that's not going to be fixed.
If I wanted Chrome, I'd have installed Chrome. I wouldn't install a crippled version of it that's carrying an Opera brand. If I wanted Opera, I'd want a product that is still going to be developed and improved, but 12.16 is pretty much the end of the road.
So it's time to give Firefox another try. So far, it's improved a lot. It uses less RAM than it did before, and much less than Opera does now. It is much faster than Opera. And none of the sites that I had to open IE for, because they refused to play with Opera, pose any problem.
So I've moved over. Which is sad. I really liked Opera. In my view, there's now one less player in the global broser space, and sadly the one to drop out is the one I thought was the best.
Things I haven't worked out how to do yet:
(i) The "notes" feature in Opera
(ii) sync bookmarks / speed-dials to a mobile browser - Firefox don't have a Symbian browser, but Opera Mini works well and syncs with my desktop instance.