A funny thing happened on the way to search Twitter this morning: I saw that Opera 10 was a "Trending Topic" and a smile came across my face. While I don't use Opera as my default browser, I always keep it around (in fact I'm working on a report about how to harness Opera's features for tracking live events online).
In the interval between the time that my last OpenStep-capable computer died and the time I bought my first OS X-capable Mac (a period I refer to as "the Dark Ages") I was using that other operating system... which came with Internet Explorer. Like most of you, I found this unacceptable. But what were my options? "Firefox," you say. It didn't even exist yet. "Safari"? Years away, even for Mac users.
Enter Opera. Opera was my salvation during that time. It was fast, it was powerful, and it did all sorts of really advanced "power user" features. Once, many years ago, I even wrote a series called "30 Days to Becoming an Opera Lover" designed to teach folks all the things Opera had to offer.
If you tried Opera 10 in the past but didn't like how it looked on the Mac, it is time to take another look. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the browser itself looked so good, even before any pages were loaded.
When you go to download it, you will be met with the words "Opera 10 with Turbo." Turbo is Opera's server-side compression technology which is designed to speed up web browsing by compressing text and images on Opera's servers before sending it to your browser. If this sounds a little bit like what AOL, etc used to offer for customers on dialup, it is. The difference is that you can easily toggle this on or off (or set it to "Automatic" and let Opera adjust based on your web connection).
This may not mean much to you if you are sitting on a FiOS or other super-fast connection, but Opera recognizes that more and more people are using mobile 3G cards for laptops (or even, dare one say: netbooks) or sharing a Wi-Fi connection at the local coffeehouse with dozens of your closest bandwidth-hogging friends. As for myself, I spend a great deal of time behind something called "Satellite Internet." If you don't know what that is, consider yourself fortunate. I look forward to testing this feature. If nothing else you owe it to yourself to watch this fun YouTube video on compression that Opera created.
Talking about web browsers is a little like talking about religion, politics, or the best text editor. Everyone has their own take on them and you are more likely to get into a fight than actually change anyone's opinion. That said, Opera 10 is worth a look. It has a lot of excellent features built-in (tabs on the left or right being one of my favorite, especially in these days of "widescreen" laptops).
Opera may not have a giant marketshare, but Mac users in particular ought to be used to the fact that biggest marketshare isn't always best!