History of the Opera web browser

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MultiTorg Opera

The history of the Opera web browser began in 1994 when it was started as a research project at Telenor, the largest Norwegian telecommunications company. In 1995, the project branched out into a separate company named Opera Software ASA,[1] with the first publicly available version released in 1996.[2] Opera has undergone extensive changes and improvements, and introduced notable features such as Speed Dial.

Until version 2.0, the Opera browser was called MultiTorg Opera (version 1.0) and had only a limited internal release—although it was demonstrated publicly at the Third International WWW Conference in April 1995.[3][4] It was known for its multiple document interface (MDI) and 'hotlist' (sidebar), which made browsing several pages at once much easier, as well as being the first browser to completely focus on adhering to the W3C standards.

In February 2013, Opera Software announced that their in-house rendering engine, Presto, would be phased out in favour of WebKit.[5] Opera 15 saw the browser being fully rewritten, with this and subsequent releases being based on Blink and Chromium.

Desktop versions[edit]

Version 2[edit]

Version 2.0, the first public release of Opera, was released as shareware in 1996.[6][7]

Due to popular demand, Opera Software showed interest in programming its browser for alternate operating systems such as Apple Macintosh, QNX and BeOS. On October 10, 1997, they launched "Project Magic", an effort to determine who would be willing to purchase a copy of their browser in their native OS, and to properly distribute funds to develop or outsource for such operating systems.[8] On November 30, 1997 they closed voting for which operating system to develop with. Project Magic then became a news column for updates for alternate operating systems until version 4.[9]

Version 3[edit]

Opera 3.62

Opera 3 was the first version of Opera with JavaScript support,[7] but Java was still missing.[10] It was released for multiple operating systems on December 31, 1997.[11][12]

In 1998, Opera 3.5 was released, adding Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) support[7] and file upload capability.[13]

Since version 3.5, Opera has supported CSS, and Håkon Wium Lie, one of the inventors of CSS, is the CTO at Opera.[14] Up to 6.0 Opera supported most common web standards, Netscape plugins and some other recent standards such as WAP and WML for wireless devices, but its implementation of advanced ECMAScript (better known as "JavaScript") and the HTML Document Object Model was poor.

Version 3.6 was released on May 12, 1999.[15] The 16-bit version of Opera for Windows 3.62 was the final version available for Windows 3.x. Further releases would require Windows 95.

Version 4[edit]

On June 28, 2000,[16] Opera 4 for Windows (Elektra)[17] was released, introducing a new cross-platform core, and a new integrated e-mail client.

Version 5[edit]

Opera 5.02

Opera 5, released on December 6, 2000, was the first version which was ad-sponsored instead of having a trial period.[18] Version 5 also supported ICQ, but this was dropped from later versions.

Opera supported OS/2 for the first time, requiring WarpIN and Odin to be installed.[19]

Opera 5.10 (April 2001) was the first version to recognize mouse gestures, but this feature was disabled by default.

Version 6[edit]

Opera 6.0

On November 29, 2001, Opera 6 was released with new features including Unicode support, and offering a single document interface as well as the multiple document interface allowed by previous versions.[20]

First MSN.com controversy[edit]

On October 24, 2001, Microsoft blocked users of browsers other than Internet Explorer, including Opera, from accessing MSN.com. After cries of monopolistic behavior, Microsoft lifted the restrictions two days later.[21][22] However, as late as November 2001, Opera users were still locked out from some MSN.com content, despite Opera's ability to display the content had it been served.[23]

Version 7[edit]

Opera 7.02

On January 28, 2003,[24] Opera 7 was released, introducing the new "Presto" layout engine, with improved CSS, client-side scripting, and Document Object Model (DOM) support. Mac OS 9 support was dropped.

Version 7.0 saw Opera undergo an extensive rewrite with the faster and more powerful Presto layout engine. The new engine brought almost full support for the HTML DOM meaning that parts of, or a whole, page can be re-rendered in response to DOM and script events.

A 2004 review in The Washington Post described Opera 7.5 as being excessively complex and difficult to use. The review also criticized the free edition's use of obtrusive advertisements when other browsers such as Mozilla and Safari were offered free of charge without including advertisements.[25]

In August 2004, Opera 7.6 began limited alpha testing. It had more advanced standards support, and introduced voice support for Opera, as well as support for Voice XML. Opera also announced a new browser for Interactive Television, which included a fit to width option Opera 8 introduced. Fit to Width is a technology that initially utilized the power of CSS, but it is now internal Opera technology. Pages are dynamically resized by making images and/or text smaller, and even removing images with specific dimensions to make it fit on any screen width, improving the experience on smaller screens dramatically. Opera 7.6 was never officially released as a final version.

On January 12, 2005, Opera Software announced that it would offer free licenses to higher education institutions,[26] a change from the previous cost of $1,000 USD for unlimited licenses. Schools that opted for the free license included Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, University of Oxford, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Duke University. Opera was commonly criticized for having been ad-sponsored, since this was seen as a barrier to gaining market share. In the newer versions the user was allowed a choice of generic graphical banners, or text-based targeted advertisements provided by Google based upon the page being viewed. Users could pay a license fee to remove the advertisement bar.

Second MSN.com controversy[edit]

In 2003, MSN.com was configured to present Opera browsers with a style sheet used for old versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer.[27] Other browsers received either a style sheet tailored to them, or at least the latest Internet Explorer style sheet.[28] The outdated style sheet that Opera received caused Opera to move a significant amount of MSN.com's content 30 pixels to the left of where it should be, distorting the page and making it appear as though there was a bug in Opera.[29]

In response, the Opera Software company created a special "Bork" edition of Opera which displayed gibberish instead of MSN.com but not on any other web site. They said they did this to make a point about the necessity of a harmonious relationship between web browsers and web sites.[30]

After the complaints, Microsoft changed their servers to present the latest version of Opera, version 7, with the style sheet served to the latest version of Internet Explorer, which resolved the problem. However, Microsoft continued to serve the outdated style sheet to the older Opera 6.[28][30]

Hotmail controversy[edit]

In November 2004, Opera Software sent an electronic message to Microsoft, complaining that Opera users were sent an incomplete JavaScript file when using Hotmail (now Outlook.com). The incomplete file prevented Opera users from emptying their "Junk E-mail" folders. The Opera Software company later sent a physical letter to Microsoft. Nevertheless, as of February 11, 2005, Microsoft had neither replied to the messages nor corrected the issue.[31][32]

Version 8[edit]

Opera 8.0

On April 19, 2005, version 8.0 was released.[33] Besides supporting SVG Tiny, multimodal features and User JavaScript, the default user interface was cleaned up and simplified. The default home page was an improved search portal.[34] The changes displeased a number of existing users since some advanced settings became hidden.[35]

Version 8.0 introduced support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.1 Tiny. This marked the first major web browser to natively support some form of SVG.[36]

Version 8.5 was released on September 20, 2005. Opera announced that their browser would be available free of charge and without advertisements, although the company still continued to sell support contracts.[37] Enhancements included automatic client-side fixing of web sites that did not render correctly, and a number of security fixes.

Version 9[edit]

Opera 9

Version 9.0 was the first Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and BSD browser to pass the Acid2 test.[38][39] This version, released on June 20, 2006, added XSLT and improved SVG to 1.1 Basic level.

Beta versions of Opera 9 included an Easter egg that, when triggered,[40] affects the Acid2 test. After the page has been open for a while, the eyes of the smiley will follow the cursor around and when the user clicks on the eyes, a JavaScript alert will read "Because just passing is not enough ;)".[41] The changes to the Acid2 code were applied using Opera's browser.js feature, and remain available in a separate User JavaScript file.[42]

Opera introduced Widgets, small web applications, a built-in BitTorrent client, improved content blocking and a built-in tool for creating and editing search engines. Opera also added ability to read MHTML and to save the web page as archives.

Version 9.1 (released in 2006) introduced fraud protection using technology from GeoTrust, a digital certificate provider, and PhishTank, an organization that tracks known phishing web sites.[43]

Version 9.2, codenamed Merlin, introduced Speed Dial, 3 × 3 small thumbnails which are shown instead of a blank page.

Version 9.5, codenamed Kestrel (after the Kestrel falcon), was released to span the gap between Opera 9.2 and Opera 10.[44] It included some of the rendering improvements due to be made in Opera 10 and also aimed to provide better integration with various operating systems.[45][46][47] The first alpha build of Opera 9.5 was released on September 4, 2007. The first public beta was released on October 25, 2007,[48] and the final version was released on June 12, 2008.[49] The final release was downloaded more than 4.5 million times in the first 5 days.[50]

Opera 9.5 has improved support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), including many more CSS3 selectors and the CSS2 text-shadow property.[51][52] Support for other web standards was also improved. For example, Opera 9.5's Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) implementation supports 93.8% of the W3C's SVG test suite,[53] and built-in support for Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG) and MathML.[54][55] Opera 9.5 also supports high-security Extended Validation Certificates[56] and added malware protection through partnership with Haute Secure.[57]

The interface underwent a few alterations as well, using "Sharp" by default, a new skin designed to be more intuitive,[58] though the classic skin was still available as a user preference. Screen reader support has been added back in. Opera's mail client, Opera Mail, has been updated, with an improved indexing feature and many bugfixes.[59] Opera 9.5 also lets users save bookmarks, notes, the Personal Bar and Speed Dial settings to the Opera Link service. These preferences can then be synchronized with another Opera browser, such as a copy of Opera Mini running on a mobile phone.[60]

Alongside the new features, Opera 9.5 had new performance improvements. For example, x64-bit editions of Opera for compatible Linux and BSD operating systems.[45][61] On the other hand, SPARC Linux support has been dropped.[62]

Version 9.6 improved Opera Link with the new opportunity to sync custom search engines and typed history. Feed preview and an updated Opera Mail client were additional changes.

Version 10[edit]

Version 10 (Peregrine) debuted in a first beta version on June 3, 2009 and scored 100/100 on the Acid3 test, but failed the smoothness criteria. There was also a preview build that scored 100/100, released on March 28, 2009. Among other features, it also came with speed optimizations, inline spell checking for forms, an auto update feature, HTML mail formatting, web fonts and SVG font support, alpha transparency support using the RGBA and HSLA color models, and an updated version of the Opera Dragonfly web debugger. Opera Turbo, a mode which uses Opera's servers as proxy servers with data compression, reducing volume of data transferred by up to 80% (depending upon content), and thus increasing speed, was introduced.

Opera 10 was officially released on September 1, 2009. Within a week of release, 10 million downloads had been recorded.

The 10.5x versions (codenamed Evenes) also came with a new JavaScript engine, Carakan, and a new graphics backend dubbed Vega (replacing the previously used Qt), that have increased its speed measurably. Then version 10.60, which Opera Software claims to be 50% faster than Opera 10.50, which also brought up new features like Geolocation, WebM support, AVG malware protection, Speed Dial improvements, etc.

10.63 was the final version to run on Windows 9x/NT4, as later releases would require at least Windows 2000.

Version 11[edit]

Opera 11 (codenamed Kjevik) was released on December 16, 2010 with new features including extensions, tab stacking, visual mouse gestures, new installer (Windows only) and safety improvements to the address field. In addition, the content blocker list now can be synchronized through Opera Link.[63] It also passes the Acid3 Test as of January 22, 2011.

On April 12, 2011, Opera 11.10 (codenamed Barracuda) was released. It contains many fixes "under the hood", such as improved Turbo Mode, a plug-in installation wizard and a rewritten Speed Dial. Opera 11.10 was updated to use the new Presto 2.8 Rendering Engine. [64]

On May 18, 2011, the final version of Opera 11.11 was released with improvements to security.[65][66]

On June 28, 2011, Opera 11.50 (codename Swordfish) was released. Equipped with the rendering engine Presto 2.9.168 featuring up to 20% faster rendering of CSS and SVG, support for HTML5 tag

Operating system Latest version
Windows Windows 7 to Windows 10 45
Windows XP and Windows Vista 36
Windows 2000 12.02
Windows 9x and Windows NT 4.0 10.63
Windows 3.1x 3.62
Unix-like Linux 45
FreeBSD 12.16
Solaris 10.11
OS/2 and eComStation 5.12
QNX 5.2.1 (stable)
6.01b (beta)
BeOS 3.62
OS X 10.910.12 45
10.710.8 36
10.6 25.0
10.5 12.16
10.4 11.10
10.410.5 (PowerPC) 10.63
10.3 10.10
10.2 8.54
10.010.1 7.54u2
Mac OS v8-v9 6.03

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