If you’ve ever wondered why people do crazy things in business, look at the growing list of browsers for both Mac and Windows PCs.
Among the major browsers, they’re all free, and all run on the Mac, save the worst of the browsers, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Among Mac and PC users, one major browser takes a back seat to the rest, it’s free, and it’s still around, faster and with more features than ever.
What Price Browser Freedom?
Run down the list of popular browsers for Macs and PCs (excluding Microsoft’s aging behemoth). Apple’s Safari runs on both platforms. So does Mozilla’s Firefox. Ditto for Google’s Chrome.
What about the fastest browser on earth?
Opera claims the speed crown among the world’s more popular browsers, but barely makes the cut as a major browser.
To be kind, the Opera browsing experience for Mac users is, uh, well, and exercise in Think Different™. If Opera is faster than Chrome or Safari, or even Firefox, it’s faster due to some obscure test, rather than a real world experience.
Opera is the browser that Mac users love to hate (now that there’s no longer Internet Explorer to kick around).
Beat ‘em With Features And Betas
I’ve been using—when it isn’t recovering from a crash—Opera 10.5.x for a month or two. It is fast, though a self-annointed fastest browser on earth crown is a stretch.
Opera 10.5.1 is more polished that previous efforts, loaded with unique features, but far fewer than Mozilla’s Firefox with add ons, yet substantially more than either Chrome or Safari, both of which are built on Web Kit.
The features I like are the kind every browser needs. Private browsing and browser windows that delete their history when closed. Zooming into to web pages is improved, with a handy slider.
Sidebar: Apple allowed Opera’s mini browser for the iPhone to be downloaded from the App Store, therefore competing with Safari. Why? Opera mini has a few extra features, but the overall look and feel of each window makes Safari look better than it is. Apple doesn’t mind a little competition so long as it is crummy competition (no pinch zoom, and horrible font rendering).
Opera 10.5.x tabs are nice, and put the close button on the left, where it belongs (take that, Firefox).
The toolbar looks more Mac-like, as does nearly every other feature. If you have a MacBook or MacBook Pro you can use pinch to zoom, or swipe multiple fingers to scroll (even three fingers left to right to navigate through your browser history).
Opera has built in Opera Mail, Widgets, and automated crash reporting; the latter feature was used quite often during the early stages of Opera 10.5.x’s beta period. Opera touts the improved look in Windows PCs using the Aero Glass effect on Windows 7. It’s better than the Mac version, but the Mac is clean and professional, and can be customized in ways Safari cannot.
Web searching one ups Safari with options for more than one search engine, and cookie controls, and auto update, and a bit torrent function for faster downloads.
My previous encounters with Opera on a Mac have not been pleasant. Funky look. Crash. Crazy features. The Mac version has always been an afterthought. But overall, the latest version of Opera is a welcome improvement over past attempts to remain relevant in a sea of free browsers. How does Opera perform in the real world where all you do is browse from one page to another?
The latest version doesn’t make me hate Opera. As much. Since Google’s Chrome browser already tops Opera in market share, and is free, I wonder why Opera bothers. And, where’s the money trail?