Opera 15 is Launched

By Craig Buckler
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Opera 15 has arrived. Yes, version 12 was the last release but browser numbering has become increasingly meaningless during the past few years. What’s important is that Opera 15 is the first (final release) of a desktop browser to use Google’s new Blink rendering engine — it’s beaten Chrome off the starting blocks.


The Windows and Mac OS download is available from Opera.com (Linux is coming soon). The installer file size has increased to 30MB — that’s 2.5x the size of version 12. Once installed, the application requires a little over 90MB. Not excessive, but double that required by the Presto edition.

If you have version 12 installed, Opera 15 will install to the same folder but both applications will happily co-exist. Sensible.

Redesigned Interface

The browser is recognizable as Opera but the overall design will match your OS. For example, on Windows 8, the application is flatter and simpler than before:

Opera 15

Opera 15 on Windows 8

Opera 12

Opera 12 on Windows 8

Personally, I think it’s an improvement and the browser starts noticeably faster too.

What’s New?

Perhaps the first feature you’ll notice is the combined address and search bar which shows suggestions as you type.

Bookmarks have been merged into Speed Dial. I guess that makes sense, although users with hundreds of bookmarks may be less convinced. Fortunately, Opera has provided a Bookmarks Manager Extension which brings back some of the essential functionality.

The Stash is a new feature which allows you to mark a page to read later. You can therefore keep pages in the Stash instead of retaining open tabs which use more resources. It’s a nice idea, although it’s very similar to the Speed Dial and the subtle distinction could confuse some.

“Discover” is a news page based on your country and interests. It looks good, although I doubt it’ll entice you from your favorite current affairs website.

Then we have “Off-Road mode”. I originally suspected this was an offline setting, but it’s actually Opera Turbo by another name. Seriously Opera, your terminology is confusing enough without changing it every so often!

What’s Old?

There are a number of features missing from Opera 15 which may appear in later releases:

  • Dragonfly: for now, you can enable Developer Tools to use the Web Inspector.
  • Extensions: Opera is moving to Chromium’s API so older extensions are no longer supported. However, a range is available at addons.opera.com/en/extensions/
  • panels: several of the panels such as notes, links and info have been removed.
  • getUserMedia: Opera was one of the first browsers to implement camera and microphone support, but that’s gone for the time being.
  • geolocation: similarly, geolocation has been dropped in the desktop versions of the browser — although it is available in mobile versions.

Finally, the M2 email client has been split into a separate application — Opera Mail. Some will complain, but I suspect relatively few people use Opera’s email so it’s a logical decision.

Blink Rendering

Opera’s Presto engine was excellent but:

  1. it had started to fall behind the competitors in some areas such as CSS3 transformations and animations, and
  2. few developers tested Opera so you could encounter issues which didn’t affect Webkit, Gecko or Trident.

The move to Blink (a Webkit-fork) eradicates these problems in one strike. Everything works as it would in Chrome — you’re unlikely to experience incompatibilities ever again. In addition, the Opera team is contributing to Blink’s development efforts.

A Bright New Future?

I like Opera … but is it having an identity crisis? The browser typically appealed to power users who preferred the extensive range of configuration settings. While a leaner set of options could attract more users, there’s already a simple browser which uses the same rendering engine.

Is Opera different enough to distinguish it from Chrome? Are you an existing Opera disillusioned by the changes? Or do you prefer the new edition?

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  • Rodrigo

    Everything good about Opera is gone.
    – the speed dial thumbs don’t fit on my screen anymore
    – the toggle button on the edge of the screen for favorites, downloads, links, history… gone
    – Opera 9.2 compatible shortcuts… gone. I liked using Z-X to navigate back and forth.
    – Using 1-2 to navigate between tabs… gone.
    – User styles and disable images? Gone.
    – Dragonfly on my secondary monitor? GONE…

    • Anas

      Everything good about Opera is gone :(

  • I always used opera, but i’m really upset about dragonfly, everything it’s awesome with this new version, but the debugger, i update it in the office, and i’m not shure to do it at home. :/

    • Dragonfly is returning. Personally, I prefer it to the Webkit inspector too.

  • Arms

    Can’t go wrong with chrome tbh but I have never used Opera before. I just love the speed when I’m browsing. Firefox is my alternative for developing, firebug is a piece of gold. Would like to know why some use Opera, does it offer more?

    • Previous versions did offer more. Opera 12 and below included a lot of functionality which either wasn’t available in other browsers or required plugins. Many found it too complicated. But a passionate user group loved it.

      Version 15 is not feature complete, but it’s dropped many options Opera users took for granted. Personally, I loved tab grouping — but that’s now gone and the Stash isn’t really a replacement.

      I hope Opera can turn things around, but they may have been better to wait until v15 was (mostly) on-par with v12. I suspect many loyal Opera fans will be disappointed.

      • Howard

        Yep, I’m disappointed. I had forgotten about all the other features I used in the past. Switching to a chrome base I HOPE, will allow them to bolt on the old features we all grew accustomed to. I looked at 15 and really it’s just chrome with a little difference. I’m staying with 12 until or hopefully when they have matured the 15 platform a bit more. I.E. bring back the useful items that were once there, which most of us already mentioned.

  • John Spitak

    I’ve been using Opera since version 4. I was excited to first hear about using webkit to RENDER but I never imagined it would be a wannabe clone. I was expecting all of OPERA to wrap around this. Nobody uses Opera email?? Yeah, sure buddy…. Any long time Opera user is probably spitting on this, as I.

    Opera R.I.P., You were one of a kind, now just kind of Chrome.. lame

  • I used Opera for 10 years until it started to fall behind.
    I hate this new version. Many of the cool features that made Opera stand out are gone.
    No Ctrl-Tab to flip between two tabs. No right-click to create search. The settings menu has been stripped to nothing.
    I don’t see the point of this over say Chrome.

  • Howard

    I just downloaded 15 and it’s a heck of a change. I liked all the features of 12 and I rarely use Chromium. Opera has been my default for years and I’m one of those users with hundreds of bookmarks. Panels was one of the big things I used and the ability to navigate bookmarks on the side was a god send as well as the right click and create a bookmark. That was a HUGE time saver. This is the reason I didn’t use Chromium. Controls are not easily found so I’m now wondering what my alternative will be if I don’t like Opera 15. I think there was a lot of great functionality in 12 and a large amount of that has gone, which is why I was using it. Just a bit disappointing.

  • jim

    opera 12 was so outstanding and unique and now we get a piece of garbage like this. it used to have the best page zoom and now that is gone along with many other features. reinventing opera my –. they just built some junk on top of the very mediocre chrome browser. i’ll be leaving opera permanently now – goodbye and good riddance.

  • I thought I’d give it a go. I’ve not been an avid user of Opera at all, other than for testing, but did enjoy the older ones when I used them. However, after first install I thought I’d picked the wrong browser and installed Chrome instead! That said, it is fast, and smooth, but not different.

    The most annoying thing for me was that it set itself as my default browser without even asking me, and that is a big no no. Uninstalled thanks to that.

    • Which OS did it happen on? I’m using Windows 8 and it did ask me, although there was some strange activity when I initially launched it.

      I’ve never been keen on the “helpful” selection of bookmarks either (especially when a few are US versions of international sites). Opera’s done it for a while and I’m sure it raises a little revenue but a “would you like us to add some useful bookmarks” option during installation would be nicer.

  • Hmm Love Opera By Many Reasons, Specially its Turbo Function.

    Thanks to developers.

    • You mean “Off Road mode”. Nope — I don’t really get the metaphor either, but it’s no worse than “Turbo” which, ironically, was best used on slower connections.

  • Stevie D

    I’ve not tried it yet – after reading the reports of all the things that are missing (ie, everything that made Opera unique and worthwhile), I couldn’t bear to see an old friend brought so low. The web already has quite enough bland, uninspiring but quite quick and well-marketed browsers that allow you to surf but no more than that. Opera was different because it had a zillion native functions that allowed power users to really get the most out of their browsing experience. If Opera are not going to reintroduce all those features then they have just sealed their own fate – there will be no reasons for anyone new to switch to a different Chrome-clone, and existing loyal users will despise them as traitors and sell-outs. I will be sticking with Opera 12.15 until there is a browser available that does everything that does and more, but I will not “upgrade” to something that is not as good.

    1 July 2013. The day the internet died.

  • Mike H

    I’m absolutely devastated to hear that Opera are discontinuing the in-browser email client.

    This is the single best piece of browser technology I have ever used and I rely on it for pulling all my email accounts together and being able to find everything I need in a matter of seconds.

    I haven’t looked at the new separate Opera Mail client yet but I expect it’ll be missing all the best features.

    Looks like Opera’s efforts to provide genuinely efficient and business-like technology are continually being dumbed down by trying to survive in a world of social-media obsessed teenagers…

  • Tim

    I was very disappointed in the loss of the “real” Opera.

    On the other hand, with Safari Win going by the wayside, this at least does give users an alternative to Chrome. Not everyone wants Google everywhere. Ubiquity isn’t always good.

  • ralph.m

    I’ve always heard that Opera is a more sophisticated browser and really the choice of connoisseurs—but I’ve never had the energy to learn how to use it properly, and have thus lived in a permanent state fo guilt. Reading this article, I’m now guilt free, and glad that I didn’t waste my time.

    • Stevie D

      Not guilt-free – quite the opposite. If more people had used Opera before, while it was genuinely the best browser available then they might have been in a stronger position and wouldn’t have needed to sell out.

      That’s right Ralph, we’re blaming you personally ;-)

  • John

    Craig, you made the understatement of the century when you said (in your reply to one of the comments above), “I suspect many loyal Opera fans will be disappointed.” Disappointment is not the right word. Disgust and disbelief would be more accurate – not to mention the feeling that we’ve been abandoned and are being ignored.

    Every time the developers make a blog post about a Opera 15 there are howls of protest over what we’ve lost. Yesterday the developers made two posts trying to explain their reasoning and trying to placate us (although I think “placate” is inappropriate, because all they do is talk down to us; they know best, and we don’t matter – they should be politicians, not software developers). Very few of those who have commented on the developers’ posts have had anything positive to say about Opera 15. On the other hand, each blog post has attracted several pages of complaints.

    You mention that “The installer file size has increased to 30MB — that’s 2.5x the size of version 12. Once installed, the application requires a little over 90MB. Not excessive, but double that required by the Presto edition.” What you didn’t mention was that v15 is a resource hog, just like Chrome, and you only touched on the fact that v12 includes much, much more in that much smaller download. Your comment that you “suspect relatively few people use Opera’s email” is wrong. There have been many complaints about splitting it out of the browser. It’s worth noting that Opera 12, with the built-in M2, uses less memory than Opera 15 without M2. And they want us to run it as a separate program?

    The dumbed-down Opera 15, like its stablemate, Chrome, seems to be designed for those who use their browser to visit Facebook and nothing else. Why else would they have adopted an approach that leaves out most of the functions and all of the usability that made Opera great? Many of the features we’ve lost are things I use every time I open the browser. For a power user Opera 15 is useless – and that’s why I’ve never liked Chrome; it’s just too basic for my needs. The only reason I can see for Chrome being so popular is Google’s market share. As a browser it’s far inferior to Opera 12.

    Sadly, there aren’t many viable alternatives to Opera 12 – and none that I’ve found that are anywhere near its equivalent. Firefox is bloated – and that’s without adding extensions to try to get it to do what Opera 12 does “out of the box”. I’m sticking with Opera 12, and I’m also giving QtWeb a try. Like Opera 12 it fits a lot more in a smaller package. Even IE10 is more appealing than Opera 15.

  • Fred

    I have used Opera for at least 10 years. I think the end is nearby with this version. I’m searching for a new browser now. I will never use Google Chrome because half of the population use it, offering their privacy. My privacy is important, my freedom also. The lost of the bookmarks is terrible, i have over 3000 bookmarks and need them all !

    Rest In Peace Opera browser … and Opera Software ASA from Oslo

    • Wanda

      Sad. I just use pinboard.in for my bookmarks though.

  • Doug

    I loved the built-in email, but couldn’t use Opera as my default because it wouldn’t render some of the sites I need to use for business properly. I was expecting a Webkit version with the email still in place, and was planning to switch back to Opera as soon as that happened. So much for that wishful thinking. I still don’t have a single browser that does everything I need.

  • steve

    From bad to worse ! No right mouse button works on links and also missing context meni on right mouse click. But that isn’t all ! Missing old context gui and no control over java script like in old one. I wish old opera with chrome engine and not presto and all other things remains the same. This one is rebranded version of chrome ! Missing many features opera has including saving page as mht ! What are developers of browsers dumb or what ? We are living in 21st and no single web page save standarized ???

  • I´ve been a faithful Opera user for longer than I can remember and this article has really scared me off from updating to the new version. New doesn´t always mean better. I will try to live on with version 12 and hope that they don´t sneak the update on me without my concent. Thanks for the information.

  • yammie

    Why are the panels gone?!?!? They’re the very reason I’m using Opera. :(