With such strong competition from Mozilla and Microsoft, the only thing Opera can do to stay competitive is to innovate. And one has to hand it to them: although it doesn’t have a huge user base in the desktop web browser space, Opera is always one step ahead of the rest, for better or for worse.
With version 10.10, Opera () has taken its biggest step into the unknown so far, marrying the web browser with the web server. It definitely makes it unique in the world of web browsers, but there’s always the lingering question whether all these new features are really something we need, or is it just confusing the users?With Opera Unite integrated into the browser, the web becomes a read/write affair. You can share photos (10 GB of them), stream music, serve a chat or even an entire web site directly from your browser. At Opera, they have high hopes for the technology. From the official site:
“Our devices will evolve. From in-dash computers in trucks to entertainment systems in airplanes, and from a netbook in North Dakota to a phone in North Africa, every device is both a consumer and a provider of content.”
The idea is certainly interesting, but the web has been moving in another direction in the past couple of years: the cloud. Instead of having stuff run on your computer, your applications and your data reside in the cloud, with all the resources and the know-how provided by a company like Google (). So yes, with Opera Unite, you can host a web site on your own home computer, but you might run into bandwidth issues; with Google Sites, you can easily create a web site without worrying about bandwidth, but you’re at Google’s mercy, so to say. So far, despite possible privacy and security issues, cloud computing has been taking over, and it’s hard to imagine Opera turning the tide in the other direction. Some Unite applications, however, like the media server or the chat, are quite useful and might win over some converts for the Norwegian browser.
Other interesting features in the new Opera 10.10 include Opera’s Turbo technology, which speeds up browsing by compressing web pages on Opera’s servers and delivering you the “lite” version, Opera Link, which lets you synchronize data across several computers, a slick new look with a resizable tab bar, and a BitTorrent-enabled download manager. See the full list of features here.