Why Opera 10’s User Agent Smells Bad

Craig Buckler
Craig Buckler
Opera 10
The Opera browser has continued to evolve and version 10 will be released shortly. All browsers identify themselves with a unique code known as a user agent. The alpha release in December 2008 used a logical user agent string, e.g. for a Mac in an English locale:
Opera/10.00 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X; U; en) Presto/2.2.0
However, all subsequent builds and the final release will use:
Opera/9.80 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X; U; en) Presto/2.2.15 Version/10.00
Version 9.8? What’s going on? Opera is one of the oldest browsers and is the first to approach a double-digit version number. Unfortunately, the Opera developers started to experience strange problems with a selection of sites that use browser sniffing to serve version-specific content and/or scripts. Many of the sniffing scripts simply detected the first digit in the user agent string and boldly assumed they were running on Opera 1 rather than Opera 10. Worse still, many of these sites decided that the browser was unsupported and refused to provide any content. The Opera team deliberated the site compatibility problem and came up with the best compromise: freeze the first part of the string at 9.80 but append the real version number to the end. v9.80 was chosen rather than v.9.99 just in case there is a need to update the initial version number at a future date. The same problem is likely to hit Microsoft; Internet Explorer is not far behind at version 8.0, and would probably be there now if the company hadn’t abandoned the browser for 6 years. Mozilla, Apple, and Google may have a little way to go, but Opera’s problem illustrates another reason why browser sniffing is a bad idea … more reasons coming soon… Would the original Opera 10 user agent string have affected any of your websites?

Frequently Asked Questions about Opera 10 User Agent

What is the Opera 10 User Agent?

The Opera 10 User Agent is a string of text that the Opera 10 browser sends to the website you’re visiting. This string of text contains information about the browser version, the operating system, and other details. Websites use this information to optimize their content and functionality for your specific browser and device.

How can I find the User Agent for my Opera 10 browser?

You can find the User Agent for your Opera 10 browser by typing “about:config” in the address bar and hitting enter. This will open a page with various browser settings. Look for the “User Agent” field to see your browser’s User Agent string.

Can I change the User Agent in Opera 10?

Yes, you can change the User Agent in Opera 10. This can be done by installing a User Agent switcher extension from the Opera add-ons store. Once installed, you can select from a list of User Agents or even enter a custom User Agent string.

Why would I want to change my User Agent?

Changing your User Agent can be useful for a variety of reasons. For example, some websites may restrict access or display different content based on the User Agent. By changing your User Agent, you can bypass these restrictions or view content intended for different browsers or devices.

What is the format of the Opera 10 User Agent string?

The Opera 10 User Agent string typically follows this format: “Opera/9.80 (Windows NT 6.1; U; en) Presto/2.2.15 Version/10.00”. This includes the browser name and version, the operating system, the layout engine, and the language.

How does the User Agent affect website compatibility?

The User Agent can affect website compatibility in several ways. Websites use the User Agent to determine which browser and device you’re using, and may serve different versions of their site accordingly. If a site doesn’t recognize your User Agent, it may not display correctly.

What is a User Agent switcher?

A User Agent switcher is a browser extension that allows you to change your browser’s User Agent string. This can be useful for testing website compatibility, accessing restricted content, or simulating different devices.

Are there any risks associated with changing my User Agent?

Changing your User Agent is generally safe, but it can potentially cause issues with website compatibility. Some sites may not function correctly if they don’t recognize your User Agent. Additionally, changing your User Agent could potentially violate the terms of service of some websites.

Can websites track me using my User Agent?

Yes, websites can potentially use your User Agent to track your browsing habits. However, this is just one of many methods that websites can use to track users, and changing your User Agent alone is unlikely to significantly impact your privacy.

How can I reset my User Agent to the default?

If you’ve changed your User Agent and want to reset it to the default, you can do so by disabling or uninstalling the User Agent switcher extension. If you’ve manually changed your User Agent in the browser settings, you can reset it by navigating to the same settings page and clearing the User Agent field.