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Opera Sees "Dramatic" Rise From Microsoft's Ballot 378

TheReal_sabret00the notes a TechRadar piece reporting that Opera Software has seen a doubling from normal download numbers on average since Microsoft's browser-choice screen lit up in Europe. The UK saw an 85% increase and for other countries it was larger still: Poland 328%, Spain 215%, and Italy 202%. Hakon Wium Lie, CTO of Opera Software, said "A multitude of browsers will make the web more standardised and easier to browse."
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Opera Sees "Dramatic" Rise From Microsoft's Ballot

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  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan ( 757476 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @09:40AM (#31535908) Homepage Journal

    Opera Software [] did great work lobbying against software patents in the campaigns on the EU software patents directive []. Thanks Opera!.

    • I can understand why people would be against software patents for obvious ideas, such as the one-click patent. But are these folks against all software patents, no matter how innovative and complex? If so, why? What makes software patents so special that they should not be allowed?
      • by augustw ( 785088 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @10:30AM (#31537038)

        Because they are expressions of ideas, more like mathematical proofs than real, mechanical, inventions - and neither ideas nor mathematical theories are patentable. The "expressions of ideas" bit is why programmes are copyrightable -- as literary works. And if they're literary works, protected by copyright, how can the be patentable too?

        And remember, in Europe you can't patent business methods or processes, either.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by nmb3000 ( 741169 )

          Because they are expressions of ideas, more like mathematical proofs than real, mechanical, inventions - and neither ideas nor mathematical theories are patentable.

          While I'm generally against software patents, this does bother me somewhat. If you come up with an amazing algorithm - which is really just math - to do something, for example, like RSA, why shouldn't you be able to patent the process? An algorithm can be very real in the sense that it takes input (like a machine) runs some process (like a mach

          • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @11:42AM (#31538788) Journal

            "It is agreed by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no individual has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land, for instance. By an universal law, whatever belongs to all men equally and in common, is the property for the moment of him who occupies it; but when he relinquishes the occupation, the property goes with it. Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society.

            "It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

            "That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.

            "Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."

            - Thomas Jefferson, 1813

      • by gilgongo ( 57446 )

        I can understand why people would be against software patents for obvious ideas, such as the one-click patent. But are these folks against all software patents, no matter how innovative and complex? If so, why? What makes software patents so special that they should not be allowed?

        There are various arguments for disallowing all software (and similar "business methods" patents), as they are currently outlawed in Europe. However, the main one is that software is basically too slippery for any patents office adequately to adjudicate on. Physical inventions are far easier to award patents for because things like prior art have a least some chance of being discovered and you can't easily derive a machine from another machine.

        This is of course an unfortunate state of affairs for the writer

      • Software should be copyrighted, NOT patented. Period. No matter how innovative, no matter how complex, no matter how many billion people think it's really cool. No patents. Patents are for physical, concrete, touchable and feelable items. Tangible, as opposed to intangible. All software is just a specific way of rearranging ones and zeros, after all. You can't actually make anything new with them.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )
        What makes software patents so special is that computer science moves so fast that a 20-year term is excessive to balance the benefit of disclosure (the original meaning of "patent" was "disclosed" []) with the deterrence of independent reinvention.
      • Your assumption that they've in favour of other patents says more about your opinions than theirs.

        • I know there are some radicals that say that we shouldn't have any patents whatsoever, but that would put the brakes on innovation. There would be no drugs developed by for-profit companies, for example. Without any patents on their products, competitors could sell generic versions immediately and they wouldn't be able to recoup R and D costs. Surely there is a happy medium between our currently broken patent system where patents are awarded for obvious ideas, and eradicating all patents. Abolishing patents
    • PLUS Opera's Turbo mode is great for people with slow connections like Dialup or Cellular/wireless. It makes the connection look about 5 times faster than it really is.

      Opera's innovations remind me of how Mosaic (and later Netscape) innovated in the early 90s.

  • by TSchut ( 1314115 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @09:40AM (#31535912)
    These numbers don't mean too much, because at the time the ballot screen was introduced Opera introduced a new version of their browser as well. Probably at least part of the increase is caused by this new version, and not by the ballot screen.

    However, still nice to see people trying something different.
    • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Friday March 19, 2010 @09:44AM (#31535992) Journal

      They track the browser downloads depending on source, so they do actually have a quite good idea how many people are installing via ballot screen.

    • by Animaether ( 411575 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @10:06AM (#31536478) Journal

      The numbers don't mean too much not for the reason you mention (as others have pointed out, they probably correlate the IP address used for the download to the IP address's entry point and check the referrer for that hit) but because these are only downloads.

      How many of those Polish potentially swayed by the "Opera Turbo technology - speed up your Internet connection" are actually going to -stick to- using Opera, rather than going back to IE or using another browser they might have downloaded through that same choice screen?

      The only thing we can even remotely suggest is that if nothing else, the browser choice screen may have brought choice -awareness- to the masses more than any other effort has done so far. That alone is a Good Thing(TM)

    • by lyinhart ( 1352173 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @10:10AM (#31536538)
      This article explicitly states that the additional downloads are coming from the screen: []
    • part of the increase is caused by this new version, and not by the ballot screen

      I see this differently. The ballot screen somehow caused Opera to create a new version.

      The Flying Spaghetti Monster may have something to do with it as well.

  • Testing burden (Score:5, Insightful)

    by williamhb ( 758070 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @09:41AM (#31535928) Journal
    Presumably it will also raise web development testing costs in the short term, as organisations feel less happy to test "just on the big three" but might not be any happier to assume that browsers all produce the same output than they are today? The long-term outlook might be more standards compliant pages, but the short term outlook might well be "Panic!"
    • IE is the burden. (Score:4, Informative)

      by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @09:50AM (#31536148) Homepage Journal
      I doubt it. Testing in IE takes longer than in all other major browsers (Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Chrome) combined. Besides IE, all major browsers are reasonably standards compliant. IE is the only browser with enough market share to make it the developers problem if they aren't standards compliant. Only really crappy developers will have any major issues and lets face it - they deserve it.
      • by gzipped_tar ( 1151931 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @10:20AM (#31536784) Journal

        To make things worse, each version of IE sucks in its distinctive way.

        That's a real pain. I used to do some Web developing part-time and I know that. When I was doing the job I had Firefox as the main testing browser and voila, my site automagicaly looked and worked the same in Firefox, Opera and Chrome/Safari without tweaking the standard-compliant code (extensively validated using W3C's tools). For each version of IE I had to maintain different hacks, test them, and make it couldn't break in the standard-compliant browsers, AND still pass the validation, AND keep the hacks as maintainable as possible.

        I learned a lot trying to do it and I was glad I made it. I'm doubly glad that I probably don't have to do it again.

    • Re:Testing burden (Score:4, Informative)

      by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @09:54AM (#31536236)

      It's going to be a long time until the average web developer gets to "let's test on Opera!" Unless they have a rich customer using it that they happen to know about. Right now, you're still lucky if they test on IE 6-8, Firefox 2-3 and Safari 2-4... I'd guess 90% of web developers don't even do that, and that's what I (personally) consider the bare minimum.

      Of course if you want to do the IE and Safari tests properly, you need a VM for each browser, since IE and Safari versions don't play nice alongside newer IE versions. And to get multiple Firefox versions you have to do a bit of user profile dickery, and even when you've done that it doesn't work quite 100% right... so really, for "simplicity", we just use a VM for every browser except the most current.

      To add to the confusion, you can't even test on older versions of Chrome even if you want to, because Google claims since Chrome auto-updates itself, it's literally impossible for someone to be running a year-old version-- yeah, right, Google! I'm sure angels will begin farting out software updates to modem users any day now!

      • Firefox on a stick (Score:3, Informative)

        by tepples ( 727027 )

        And to get multiple Firefox versions you have to do a bit of user profile dickery

        Or you use the "portable" versions [], designed to be installed to removable media, that do this dickery for you.

      • Right now, you're still lucky if they test on IE 6-8, Firefox 2-3 and Safari 2-4... I'd guess 90% of web developers don't even do that, and that's what I (personally) consider the bare minimum.

        I count that as eight different platforms (assuming we only count integer-valued version numbers). How many desktop OSes are in use, discounting those used by less than 0.1% of the market? Windows, OS X, Linux, iPhone OS, and uhm... yeah?

        So when you think about creating an application and you worry about porting it between different clients, the decision "let's make it a web app! We'll have to test fewer platforms" runs counter to your purpose, right? In other words: people have turned the web into something it wasn't meant to be---a portability nightmare.

        Yeah, writing desktop apps exposes you to differences between OSes. Okay, but all OSes have files, can count time, probably can make you some random numbers, TCP sockets and so forth: they do the same things but in slightly different ways. Wrap the differences in libportability and get over it.

        Maybe my attitude betrays my lack of coffee, but isn't it basically right? You don't have worse portability for desktop applications than you do for web applications.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I always test on Opera because I can't install Chrome at work. (Well, I can, but it insists on ignoring my organization's Windows policies, and installs itself to Documents & Settings, which is wiped every time I log out. )

        So I test on Firefox 3.6, Opera, and IE7. (Because my organization hasn't moved to IE8.)

        I've never run into an instance where Opera didn't match either IE7 or Firefox 3.6. (this is mostly testing other people's shit.)

        No, it's probably not ever going to be the first thing I test. But I

      • There was an anecdote on one of the Opera employee's blogs on how they looking to buy new servers, which nowadays are of course managed via a web-interface. They got offers and test equipment from some server companies, and one of the higher ups in the company was doing the evaluation, so he had to use the web-interface. He opened it up in his browser (you can guess which it is he's using), and immediately came the pop-up message "This browser is not supported".

        Interestingly Microsoft offers Virtual PC VM's

    • I figure just write your page in perfect compliance and say fuck any browser that fails to currently render it properly. Should one day browsers become compliant to standards they'll be able to work with the pages then and re-writing won't be necessary and you won't have wasted time supporting multiple browsers.

      Of course, this only works on not-important, mission critical web pages.

    • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @11:11AM (#31538044) Journal

      Okay, let me give you the reality of web development. You build it on firefox because it is simply the fucking best development browser. Then you give a brief test to Chrome/Opera, both of which have high quality dev environments as well (but firebug is just in a class of its own) and are typically fairly easy to debug. If you followed standards, then I rarely run into problems. Then, if you got a Mac, you test Safari. No problem there either usually.

      And then, having spend 1% of you project time so far, you go to IE. IE6, IE7, IE8. All three are different.

      And where real human beings upgrade their real browsers, the degenerates that use IE never ever upgrade but expect everything to work perfectly on decade old software.

      Oh and guess which browser is the least likely to work EVEN if you follow its own "standards"? And then there are the version differences...

      So no. Opera doesn't add any significant amount of testing. All of the 4 big other browsers (Firefox/Chrome/Safari/Opera) put together don't take a fraction of the time to debug that IE does.

      Why do you think web developers celebrated when Google recently decided that IE6 was no longer going to be directly supported?

      If Google were to put IE on a complete ban, then they could officially for ever change their motto to "do good".

  • Nintendo? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    When will Opera go after Nintendo for only allowing one "3rd-party" browser on the Wii?
    • Opera has always been the low-resource browser. Are there any Free browsers that run well in 64 MB of RAM and no swap, ready for a port to the WiiBrew environment? Fennec for Nokia N810 requires twice that much.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Isn't the Wii web browser already from Opera?
  • Hopefully, this will signal the end of the monopoly of the proprietary, non-standards compliant browsers like ie enjoyed for many years and force everybody to comply with reasonable standards. At the beginning of the internet, being non-standards compliant seemed ok at first, but now we are wiser and non-compliant browsers are looked down upon, instead of being a skewed standard.
  • Opera Mini (Score:5, Informative)

    by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Friday March 19, 2010 @10:10AM (#31536546) Homepage Journal

    As long as we're spreading the Opera love...
    I've tried but never really have gotten into Opera on the desktop. However on mobile devices -- dumbphones and smartphones and PDAs -- it's pretty much the only game in town. []

    The interface is quite fast, even on my crappy old Samsung. Difficult to believe it's a Java midp, given the responsiveness with which you can scroll around the page, zoom in/out, and slide back. It's much better than the built-in browsers that I've used on Samsung, Blackberry, older Palm devices, etc. and I even use it sometimes on my wife's Android phone. And it has some sort of bookmark sync thing tied to your account.

    Anyway, if it wasn't for opera mini, I wouldn't have been able to get by with my dumb phone on a cheap wap plan for so long. Also with my Blackberry and Palm it allowed me to hit some javascript-heavy pages when I didn't have access to a computer (airline check-ins, etc.) and the built-in browsers just wouldn't hack it. So it's an essential piece to have on your mobile device.

    * sometimes I lose my bookmarks, I think when I exit out of it too fast and my device kills java before it's finished cleaning up.
    * My phone puts java apps in a really annoying place without a quick shortcut to it (Tools | My Files | Games).
    * It disables my phone's standby for some reason.
    * Opera Mini 5 beta doesn't work, but Opera Mini 4 works great. YMMV
    * java nags to grant the app network access every time I launch a new session.

    But it's awesome enough that I put up with those inconveniences to use it :P

  • Goes to show that Microsoft IE has a large market share not because it is a great product, but because it locking competitors out.

  • Because if only Opera is seeing an increase due to this, it seems likely it is either because people like the name or people like the icon better. Not liking either of those options if true.
    • Since Opera is the only commercial browser from the alternatives, it has the most to gain/lose by this battle.

      Apple doesn't give a shit about Safari downloads and Google just wants people to use a modern browser, any browser as long as it isn't IE. And firefox, in europe which is the area we are talking about, is already pretty big. If FF doubled their downloads, there would be no more IE.

      Aaah... that is a nice thought.

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