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Opera: Firefox User Figures 'Inflated' 810

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the soem-valid-points dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "ZDNet notes, 'The chief executive of Opera Software claimed on Monday that the market share figures for Mozilla Firefox are inflated, due to its support for link prefetching" In addition, "Opera has a better caching mechanism so it doesn't access Web sites as often as other browsers" and "Opera is configured by default to identify itself as Internet Explorer' "
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Opera: Firefox User Figures 'Inflated'

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  • To see folks from Opera trying to denegrate Firefox. You have to stick together to beat IE, then you can duke it out amongst yourselves!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:06PM (#12883379)
      Even though some may take that as joke, it is not necessarily true. Competition is competition. If I were Opera I would want to be better than Mozilla AND better than IE and any of the small fries (Konqueror). Even now, I don't see how "sticking together" with Mozilla would be in Opera's best interest. The standards for the Web are open, whoever implements them best should be acknowledged. Finally, if your main or only goal as a browser is to "beat IE" then as a browser you will ultimately fail.
    • by Taladar (717494) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:09PM (#12883422)
      Firefox Advocates are not exactly known for sparing other "small" Browsers critizism either...
    • by tveidt (726264) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:16PM (#12883497)
      Yup.

      And Google only supports Mozilla's prefetching for a couple of weeks. Before that, Firefox's market share wasn't significantly lower, was it? Besides, only the raw source code gets prefetched as far as I know. Scripts, images and the like are only executed/loaded when a user actually visits the page. So, when Firefox prefetches a site, it should be visible in the site's logs, but I don't think it could trigger a third-party counter/tracker. Also, Google only prefetches certain sites, not any site.

      And that Opera identifies itself as IE is a valid concern, but that's Opera's fault, and nothing that would inflate Firefox's version numbers, just IE's.
    • by Excelsior (164338) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:42PM (#12883767)
      It's okay. I have my Firefox browser set to report itself as Opera. So, this cancels out and indeed the figure of 3 active users is accurate.
    • by Seumas (6865) * on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @04:55PM (#12884592)
      Even if the Opera dude was right, Firefox is free, open-source, extensible and has a bazillion amazing extensions. I'll take that over paying for Opera or using the free version that is stuffed with adware.

      I agree that Opera is a decent browser and they've been decent for a long time. I just don't want to pay for a browser or be forced to view advertisements. And thanks to Firefox, I don't have to.

      My only complaint is that Firefox seems to run painfully slow on OSX.
      • I'll take that over paying for Opera or using the free version that is stuffed with adware.

        I'd hardly say stuffed. I have an ad-bar of google text ads in neutral colours just below my menu bar.

        Opera is free too, free with ads. I don't mind. It does tabbed browsing 'better' than Firefox, it is more stable than Firefox, it has a smaller footprint than Firefox (on WinXP SP2), it has many UI features 'better' than Firefox.

        By 'better' I mean:
        Enhanced text searching
        Voice
        Scaling options
        Tabs (opti
  • by oni (41625) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:54PM (#12883208) Homepage
    Opera is configured by default to identify itself as Internet Explorer

    who's fault is that?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Nobodys... Opera can render IE pages just fine, but when configured to send an Opera user agent, some sites send malformed pages.
      • but when configured to send an Opera user agent, some sites send malformed pages

        Read: Microsoft websites
      • I think that's irrelevant (I'm not trolling, it's just my opinion). Having the option to send a different user agent string is very handy, but it should definitely _not_ be the default action out of the box.
      • by lspd (566786) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:32PM (#12883658) Homepage Journal
        Nobodys... Opera can render IE pages just fine, but when configured to send an Opera user agent, some sites send malformed pages.

        MSIE UserAgent strings are already full of extra garbage.

        Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
        Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; MSN 6.1; MSNbMSFT; MSNmen-us; MSNc00; v5m)
        Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98) via Avirt Gateway Server v4.2
        Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; FunWebProducts; SV1)

        You tag the useragent as "Opera" without ruining the MSIE spoofing by simply adding "Opera; " or "OWB; " after the OS string.

        It's a stupid issue anyway. Opera Software knows exactly how many users have current licenses and how many users are downloading banners for the adware version. Opera's userbase is simple to track without making any estimations.
    • It's the webmasters who feed different pages to different browswer's fault.
    • by mahdi13 (660205) <icarus.lnx@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:58PM (#12883264) Journal
      If I ran around telling everyone my name is Frank, would it be a suprise to find out that nobody knows my name?
      • by pintomp3 (882811) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:01PM (#12883313)
        depends, is your name frank?
      • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:22PM (#12883556)

        If I ran around telling everyone my name is Frank, would it be a suprise to find out that nobody knows my name?/p>

        If many major department stores and government buildings had someone at the door asking, "is your name Frank," and then refusing entry to anyone who said "no" and then most newspapers reported that Frank is the most popular name in the country after asking department stores and government agencies who would be at fault?

        It's perfectly valid to question the accuracy of browser market share statistics given the fact that it is often technologically advantageous or even necessary to misidentify.

        • by ccp (127147) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @06:27PM (#12885291)


          It's perfectly valid to question the accuracy of browser market share statistics given the fact that it is often technologically advantageous or even necessary to misidentify.

          An illustration to your point:

          I go to NetLibrary, and a page informs me my browser is not supported, may I download some of the following:

          Internet Explorer 5.5 and above
          Netscape 6.2 and above
          Mozilla 1.1 and above
          Firefox 1.0 and above
          Safari 1.0 and above
          Opera 7.0 and above

          Hey, the morons at NetLibrary! I'm using Opera 8! Knock, knock...Somebody there?

          The best part, I tell Opera to identify as Explorer, and in I go, with no other change.

          I'm still wondering if these guys are beyond stupid or somebody pays them to make alternative browsers look bad.

          Cheers,

          Carlos Cesar
      • by mscdex (774392) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:30PM (#12883627)
        would it be a suprise to find out that nobody knows my name?

        Yes, if you're at Cheers.
      • by endx7 (706884) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:31PM (#12883639) Homepage Journal
        Unfortunately, everyone just misinforms you about everything unless you say your name is either Frank or Steven. So either you are gonna end up believing a bunch of lies...or you just lie to everyone.

        Actually, I'm being serious. It's not quite everyone, but there a good portion of websites will give non-working output or refuse to give full functionality if you give them the opera user agent string. If you give them IE or even usually Mozilla, they give complete working output.

        Off the top of my head, I know msdn (thinks opera is a bot that wants feeds or something) and gmail (just reverts to basic non-js functionality) do this. Personally, when I use opera, I always just leave it identifying itself as IE or moz since I forget to change it back.

        I think a point to Opera is that they aren't so small as everyone thinks, but they ended up in a corner. They can't tell the truth or certain sites won't work (oh noes, opera sucks) or they lie (oh noes, noone uses it!) so they work, which is where they are now.
        • "If you give them IE or even usually Mozilla, they give complete working output."

          That's true, but it has not been TESTED with Opera. The thinking by the suits is that they don't want to pay people to test every part of a big web site with every browser in the world. If they can test two browsers and cover a huge percentage of all users, it becomes cost effective. Since the suits don't want customer complains from untested browsers and then have to pay people to do support, they completely block some bro
        • by alanh (29068) * on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:54PM (#12883935) Homepage
          GMail now gives the full interface by default to Opera 8.0+ users. They used an unusual interface (XMLHTTPRequest) which most pre-8 versions didn't support. The 8.x betas (and maybe 7.61, IIRC) supported this feature, but GMail didn't recognise them. You could override the check by adding "?nocheckbrowser" to the end of the URI: http://gmail.google.com/gmail?nocheckbrowser [google.com]

          I reverted to using Firefox for a while, but now I'm happily back to using Opera. Been a happy, registered user since 5.0.
      • by cmeans (81143) * <cmeans@i n t f a r .com> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:54PM (#12883933) Homepage Journal
        Thanks for being Frank with us. *ducks*
    • by bryan8m (863211) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:01PM (#12883307)
      That would mean that IE's market share figures are inflated too (mod me insightful)!
    • by DogDude (805747)
      That is very underhanded and irresponsible of the company to make it's product report that it's IE. But, it's up to them to make sure that their browser is 100% compatible with IE, because when they do stupid things like that, us webmasters have no way of knowing if we have to make tweaks for them because we don't know if they're hitting our web site! If Opera didn't render something quite right, and they had any market share, I'd only be able to work around that if they identified themselves to my web se
  • Hey (Score:5, Funny)

    by kevin_conaway (585204) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:54PM (#12883209) Homepage
    Aren't you supposed to be swimming somewhere?
  • I'll swim across the ocean!
  • WHAT!? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Leiterfluid (876193)
    The open source community inventing information!
    Ce n'est possible!
  • That Opera guy makes a point, if the browser identifies itself as IE it's had to get accurate stats.

    Still, I tried Opera and I find it's interface cluttered and messy. Firefox is much leaner feeling, and has a much better tabbed-browsing implementation, IMO.

    Sam

  • strange math (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kingjosh (792336) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:55PM (#12883218)
    If Opera is identifying itself as IE, isn't IE getting overcounted and Opera undercounted?
  • Whose fault is it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:55PM (#12883219) Homepage Journal
    "Opera is configured by default to identify itself as Internet Explorer' "

    And whose fault is that? Maybe if you would default your browser to itself rather than trying to pass itself off as someone else the statistics would show an even deeper drop in IEs marketshare and an increase in your share.

    • by Roofus (15591) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:58PM (#12883274) Homepage
      Well, it could potentially show how *little* Opera is actually used by comparison. If that's the case, I think the Opera guys would rather keep that number hidden so the can say "We've got many, many users, and if we didn't hide ourselves as IE, you'd see how mighty we are!"

      I'm not saying that's the case, but the thought came to mind....and for the record I actually purchased a copy of Opera a few years ago.
      • by arkanes (521690)
        Opera actually has the potential for the most accurate user counting around - count number of current licenses, count unique clients being served ads for the adware version. It'd be very slightly over-inflated by people who bought licenses but switched browsers, and slightly under-inflated by pirated versions. But more accurate than web logs, especially when Opera intentionally masks itself.

        I wonder if there's a reason why Opera doesn't reveal these numbers....

  • "Opera is configured by default to identify itself as Internet Explorer' "

    so why not identify yourself as Opera? Why not take a chunk out of IE's numbers and not Firefoxes?
    • Re:Identify (Score:5, Interesting)

      by OldSchoolNapster (744443) <oldschoolnapster@nOSPam.hotmail.com> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:06PM (#12883383)
      Many sites have all sorts of BS warning popups, redirects, and restrictions on browsers other than IE (often not placing restrictions on firefox btw) even though they render and work just fine in Opera. The folks at Opera have decided that the user experience is more important than their stats.

      Anyone know if Opera is now or ever has been a profitable company? I really hope so, because even with low stats a profitable browser company that competes with both free bundled IE and free firefox makes a powerful statement.
  • Buggy whip manufacturer calls automobiles a "passing fad".
  • If Opera wants to configure their browser to look like IE, that's their loss and they shouldn't gripe that they don't show up as well in usage statistics as Firefox.
  • Thanks Opera! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:56PM (#12883235)
    Opera is configured by default to identify itself as Internet Explorer

    In other words, they provide skewed data that helps Microsoft present itself as leader of the browser market. That's intelligent, way to go. At least you could have picked up a F/OSS browser to masquerade Opera...
  • Double-click (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FTL (112112) * <slashdot&neil,fraser,name> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:56PM (#12883236) Homepage
    There's another factor at work. IE and Opera both understand that many users double-click everything they see. These browsers filter out the double clicks. Mozilla on the other hand fires off two requests. Thus doubling its market share.

    Bug 55279 tried to fix this five years ago. But the feeling was that Mozilla users were smarter than the average user and wouldn't do this (which may have been true back then). Bug 238159 attempted to address just one aspect of the problem, double-clicking submit forms (which causes tons of race conditions). But again, nobody seems to care.

    • Re:Double-click (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrdaveb (239909) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:13PM (#12883465) Homepage
      Mozilla on the other hand fires off two requests. Thus doubling its market

      You've got to be joking? Yes, sure it is wasteful to send another request when there could be the option to catch and ignore double clicks... but doubling market share? Nobody in their right mind decides marketshare by counting GET requests - even the simplest stats package will count the number of visits rather than number of hits ('visits' is a very vague term, but generally it groups all the hits from the same IP/browser/hour as a single visit)
    • Re:Double-click (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slim (1652)
      Bug 238159 attempted to address just one aspect of the problem, double-clicking submit forms (which causes tons of race conditions). But again, nobody seems to care.

      Within the last month, I've been stung by exactly such race conditions -- but we found that it was only possible to double-submit a form in IE. In Firefox the second click was ignored.
    • Re:Double-click (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mandomania (151423)
      These browsers filter out the double clicks.

      Really? IE doesn't. In fact, there's an MSDN page that describes the ondblclick event that fires when someone double-clicks a DHTML element:

      http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/author/dhtml/r e ference/events/ondblclick.asp [microsoft.com]

      The only reason I know this is because we actively use this event at work (Don't shoot: it wasn't my idea).

      --
      Mando
  • by TERdON (862570) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:57PM (#12883250) Homepage
    I wasn't aware Firefox was prefetching links. Is this part of the standard distribution of Firefox or is it as usual an addon?

    BTW, the same could be said about IE but because of another reason... It does visit a whole buttload of pages, which the user never asked it to go to...

    • Re:Link prefetching? (Score:5, Informative)

      by DeadSea (69598) * on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:06PM (#12883387) Homepage Journal
      It is standard behaviour in Firefox but its not as bad as the article suggests.

      Firefox only prefetches links when the links are marked on the previous site as "hey you might want to prefetch this".

      Specifically on Google, only the top result is marked as prefetch. And even then, only when Google has determined that most visitors would choose it. Google has said that they mark it for things such as prefetching cnn.com when somebody searches for "CNN".

      The article states: "...which means that Firefox will pre-load the top search results into its cache." which is innacurate. It should say "...which means that Firefox will pre-load the top search result into its cache when Google thinks there is a very high probability you will visit the first result."

      Currency exchange rate calculator and foreign exchange converter [coinmill.com]

  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:58PM (#12883263)
    No one really uses it.
    Well yea there are some die hards and I am sure it is a great Browser and all. But with firefox as a viable free alternitive without the adds why bother.
  • by lazuli42 (219080) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:58PM (#12883265) Homepage Journal
    What the heck is this guy von Tetzchner smoking? Doesn't he realize yet that nobody cares about the technical details? People (web developers, plugin writers, users) only care about the big numbers. They don't want to think about the results, they only want to know: who is first, and by how much? Is the second place browser big enough to notice?

    Opera is nice, but the Opera execs should realize already that they can't sell their browser when their customers can download a perfectly good one for free.
  • by PopeAlien (164869) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @02:58PM (#12883273) Homepage Journal
    ..the next version of Opera will identify itself as Opera, prefetch all links, reload pages every 5 seconds, and randomly email links to the Opera download page to present a more balanced picture of market share.
    • by game kid (805301)
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Firefox! Firefox!
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Firefox! Firefox!
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Firefox Firefox!
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera--AAH, its I-E!
      IIIEEE, III...oooh, its IEE!!!
      its an Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Opera, Opera, Opera, Opera,
      Opera, Opera, O
  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by natron 2.0 (615149) <ndpeters79@gDALImail.com minus painter> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:01PM (#12883311) Homepage Journal
    FTFA:

    "A lot of people don't like our ads, which is sad as we don't have a rich sugar daddy like the Mozilla Foundation. They [the Mozilla Firefox team] don't have to think about money as they're being funded. We're not being funded," said von Tetzchner.

    Rich Suger Daddy?!? No. Firefox users feel generous enough to donate to the foundation to help support a great FREE browser. This type of competition bashing is not good for business.
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Peyna (14792) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:44PM (#12883796) Homepage
      Rich Suger Daddy?!? No. Firefox users feel generous enough to donate to the foundation to help support a great FREE browser. This type of competition bashing is not good for business.

      More like, AOL gave them $2,000,000 and Mitch Kapor gave them $300,000. I'd imagine that user contributions pale in comparison to those.
      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Christianfreak (100697) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @04:21PM (#12884229) Homepage Journal
        $2.3 million is nothing when your thinking in terms of large companies or foundations. Heck Opera claims to have had > 4 million downloads (from a quick google search). What do they charge $30 for their browser? If only 10% of those people paid for it that's $12 million right there.

        AOL gave them that money 2 years ago. With just salaries alone its likely all gone.
      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by RexRhino (769423) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @04:26PM (#12884285)
        First of all, the development that people have contributed to Firefox, developing Firefox and also developing the free plugins, are worth millions of dollars in man-hours, much more than what AOL gave them.

        Second of all, tt doesn't matter who funds the Foundation... if people don't like something about a product, people won't use it. People hate the advertising bar in Opera, and won't use it. People don't find the features in Opera valueable enough to pay for it.

        I am not going to choose what product I use based on sympathy and excuses. If a for-profit company wants me to give them my money, they are going to have to give something of equal value to me in return.
  • by suitepotato (863945) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:04PM (#12883359)
    With suitable proxies, you can make Lynx look like Internet Explorer. Of course the wrong service pack will make Internet Explorer behave like Lynx.
  • by amichalo (132545) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:05PM (#12883377)
    Aren't all market share numbers hyped?

    I bet I have reinstalled Windows 10 times in the past few years, and each time I update IE and download several other software packages over and over again.

    And as far as actual web usage, those stats must be all over the place because some sites do a better job of cross browser compatibility than others and other sites, like Slashdot, appeal to a non-IE crowd while still others, like MSN, do not.

    So this whole article should really just be a reminder to not believe everything someone else wants you to.
  • Quick survey (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Leroy_Brown242 (683141) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:07PM (#12883396) Homepage Journal
    You walk down the street,a nd ask people what the computer program Opera does, you'd get no answer in 100.

    You do the same thing with Firefox, and people know what you're talking about as mcu as they don't.

    I don't need any hard stats and figures to know that Firefox has made a more profound impact on people and the internet than many other things in a long time.
  • Some anicdotal info (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amichalo (132545) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:09PM (#12883426)
    So my non-technical father calls me the other day to tell me all about this new Browser called Firefox that the tech support guy at AT&T (his dialup provider) told him would help with the popups he was fighting against.

    This is the first time I have ever heard of a tech support person, save at AOL/Netscape, recommending an alternative web browser.
  • by ehaggis (879721) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:10PM (#12883429) Homepage Journal
    A ZDNet article [zdnet.co.uk] indicates the prefetching is for Google searches only. I am not sure this would account for a 9 point spread between browsers.
  • Perfect solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Durandal64 (658649) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @04:30PM (#12884322)
    The thought just occurred to me that we could use one problem to fix another here. We want to get webmasters coding for standards-compliant web browsers, right? Problem Number 1 is that they generally don't. Problem Number 2 is that Windows is highly susceptible to malware and viruses. So how about someone just write a virus that changes IE's user agent string to a random pick from Firefox, Opera, Safari, Mozilla or any other browser out there? Webmasters would no longer be able to trust the user agent strings they receive, so they'll have to just code to standards instead.

    Then we'll see just how fast Microsoft can get a security update out when their web monopoly is being threatened.
  • by Taladar (717494) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @04:32PM (#12884355)
    My theory about Firefox and Opera user counts is that Firefox users are mostly zealots that blindly believe when they are told Firefox is already a good Browser (are tell it themselves because they want it to be). This kind of people will of course spend more of their time telling people how nice it is and try to convince them to use it too. And since most people without an opinion in this area are IE-users it is of course better (everything is better than IE).

    Opera users use a browser with ready-to-use all useful features included (and not many unneeded ones) probably because they are pragmatic about the issue. This kind of person doesn't go out and tells everyone and their dog how good the software they use is, they just use it and do something useful in the time they save by not configuring Firefox Extensions new after each minor update and not advocating their browser all the time.

    So as a conclusion the word of mouth effect for Firefox is much higher even though the browser is much less useful.
  • Yeah, ok... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @05:19PM (#12884796) Homepage
    That may be, but I still don't know anyone personally who uses Opera, and maybe only a handful who've even heard of it. IE, Netscape, Mozilla, Firefox, sure. But not Safari (unless they're Mac people), Konqueror, Opera. I bet more people use Lynx than Opera. It might be a really nice browser, but it's irrelevant since there are presently many great FREE browsers.

    Sorry Opera, you lose.
  • by Lazy Jones (8403) on Thursday June 23, 2005 @03:58AM (#12887556) Homepage Journal
    Opera's default cache settings are more aggressive than other browsers' and they sometimes result in annoying problems (URLs ending in .html are apparently considered static HTML, even though they are often dynamically generated). Opera feels slower than MSIE when the cache settings are "correct", at least on my PC ...

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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