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Web Browsers: The Best of 08
By: Joe Eitel
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    Table of Contents:
  • Web Browsers: The Best of 08
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • Opera
  • Mozilla Camino

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    Web Browsers: The Best of 08 - Opera

    (Page 3 of 4 )

    Opera comes in a not-so-distant third place behind the two major web browsers. Although Opera's market share is relatively tiny, this is due-in large part-to the early marketing strategies of Opera's developers. Previously, users were required to pay a license fee in order to be able to use the full version of the web browser. That fee has since been eliminated, but the damage has been done to the browser's popularity, and it may be some time before it can be undone.

    Opera excels in two areas that put it above much of the competition. The easiest advantage to quantify is that Opera is the fastest running browser at the top of the market. It outperforms both Firefox and Internet Explorer and even comes in a quicker install package. Users that are concerned with page loading times and multi-tasking have found the speed of Opera to be much to their liking.

    Interestingly, in addition to the fastest running speed, Opera also boasts the greatest feature set of any of the top browsers. The software comes packaged with interesting gadgets such as a built-in text editor, Bit torrent client, and voice interaction. Though these features are neat and certainly interesting to explore, the reality is that most of them are not entirely useful to the casual Internet user. Some, such as the voice interaction, show great potential for future applications, but as of yet have not proven to serve any realistic purpose.

    Opera's greatest weakness-and the reason it only places third in this year's web browsers-is its poor ratings for security. In fact, the minimalist security is likely the very reason that the browser does run so fast in comparison with Firefox and Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, it can be a risky trade-off. If you are mostly concerned with speed and not all that worried about having to fix your computer when it becomes infected with who-knows-what, then Opera is your browser. If you are the typical user, who is worried about getting viruses and having their computer broken, maybe you should stick with one of the two browsers above.

    Over time, it is entirely possible that Opera will attract a larger user base. If such a time comes, it is very likely that Opera's developers will be pressured into adding greater security features to the web browser. It will be interesting to observe how this impacts the running speed of the browser, but the result will likely be that Opera remains a lean web browser with the speed and capabilities to worry both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

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