Opera announced earlier today that they are switching to WebKit from their own rendering engine Presto.
I have been an Opera Browser user for more than a decade now. I do not remember the exact version number I started with but it was back in the early 2000s.
A lot has changed since then. But I have continued using Opera on a daily basis. Along with an alternative browser. It used to be Phoenix which later on became Firefox. I dumped Firefox the day Chrome came out. Even today, Chrome and Opera are two apps that are always open on my computer. Chrome is used for complex web apps while Opera is where I spend most of my time reading web stuff. It is my primary RSS Reader. Yes, I still use a RSS Reader. In fact, throughout my day.
So, in a couple of months’ time… Opera would be using WebKit which means it would be a lot like Chrome in terms of rendering web pages.
This makes me sad in a way because I like a lot of stuff in Presto which I am going to miss in the future. Stuff like selecting text that is linked. No other browser allows you to do that. I do not think Opera running on WebKit would automagically get this capability.
But I am also a bit cheered up. Because it would make Chrome redundant for me in case I decide to stick with a single web browser. Of course, it all depends upon what kind of a product we would get once Opera has switched their desktop browser from Presto to WebKit.
Now about the general reaction I am seeing online. There are a couple of opinions…
1. Web Developers who are not really concerned about the open nature of the web are happy that they do not have to worry about another rendering engine.
2. Web Developers or supporters of the open web are pretty disappointed. There are now just three major rendering engines: WebKit (Safari/Chrome), Gecko (Firefox) and Trident (Internet Explorer). Opera’s Presto has always been a strong follower of web standards. So, it is going to be missed.
3. Opera Users are mostly unhappy. A lot of them love Opera for its rendering engine. Others are not bothered as long as the core features of the browsers would survive. Like their Email Client and the RSS Reader.
4. Majority of folks out there probably have not even heard about Opera so they are probably confused with it trending on Twitter.
Opera is likely to start their transition to WebKit with the launch of Opera Ice webkit based browser for Apple iOS later this month. Opera Ice should eventually come to Google Android in the future. It is not clear if it would be offered as Opera Mobile or would retain the iOS branding.
The other big question is related to Opera Mini. Opera Mini is not a regular web browser. It is completely based on Opera Turbo servers which process the complex web code and send it simple markup for rendering on mobile devices. Remains to be seen if it would see a significant change as well.