Opera: Has The Fat Lady Sung?
In an effort to answer that question, we're going to do something we usually don't: test a development browser. Next is the name of Opera's development branch, and a few weeks ago the company introduced its first Chromium-based version to the general public.
When we began testing, the version number was 15.0.1147.24. But as with any development channel, there are frequent updates, so don't be surprised if your copy of Opera Next is newer than what we're benchmarking. And remember, as we saw with the IE9 Developer Preview back in 2009, a stripped-down, feature-incomplete pre-release can often obliterate speed records, giving a false sense of the final product's true performance. Therefore, Opera Next is not eligible to win in this Grand Prix. We're merely checking to see where it stands amongst the usual suspects, especially in relation to Opera and Chrome.
The first page of the last Web Browser Grand Prix, entitled Possibly The Last "Top Four", caused quite a stir. With news that Opera was switching to a Chromium base, many wondered if the second-oldest Web browser was going to lose relevance. After all, there are plenty of second-string browsers out there based on the open source bits of Chrome, each with its own feature-based angle (like Comodo Dragon and security, along with RockMelt and social).
But before we find out what's happening with Opera, let's get caught up on the latest Web browser news and events. The last couple of months have been pretty busy, packed with announcements and, as always, plenty of drama. Here's the rundown:
Recent News And Events
03/08/13: Chrome OS Remains Undefeated At Pwnium 3
03/10/13: No Firefox For iOS, Says Mozilla's Product Head
03/25/13: Testers Say IE 11 Can Impersonate Firefox Via User Agent String
04/02/13: Firefox 20 Arrives With Per-Window Private Browsing, Download Manager
04/03/13: Blink! Google Is Forking WebKit
04/03/13: Opera Confirms It Will Follow Google and Ditch WebKit For Blink
04/04/13: Mozilla, Samsung Collaborating on New Browser Engine
04/05/13: WebKit Developers Discuss Removal of Google-Specific Code
04/12/13: Browser Choice May Affect Your Job Prospects
04/29/13: Former Opera Employee Sued for Giving Mozilla Trade Secrets
05/14/13: Firefox 21 Arrives
05/16/13: Ubuntu Developers Revisit Replacing Firefox With Chromium
05/21/13: Chrome 27 Is Out: 5% Faster Page Loads
05/28/13: Opera Releases Its First Chromium-Based Browser
06/05/13: Mozilla Plans Major Design Overhaul With Firefox 25 Release In October
06/11/13: Microsoft Boasts of Tiny Energy Saving With IE
06/22/13: Firefox advances Do-Not-Track Technology
06/26/13: IE 11 Getting WebGL, SPDY/3, New Dev Tool
06/26/13: Firefox 22 Launches, Supports Unreal Engine 3
Everyone get all of that? Google is creating a WebKit fork called Blink, making Chromium a combination of Blink/V8, and Opera plans to follow suit. And while Opera cozies up to its old rival Google, a new feud is brewing between the Norwegian browser-maker and Mozilla over an ex-Opera employee who allegedly divulged trade secrets to the non-profit. Meanwhile, Ubuntu is again considering ditching Firefox for Chromium as the distro's default Web browser, just as Firefox announces a major refresh that has the open source browser looking a whole lot like Chrome:
And the best one? Microsoft's apparent one-eighty on WebGL, with support for the hardware acceleration spotted in IE11 on Windows 8.1.
Now, let's take a quick look at today's five contenders: Chrome 27, Firefox 22, IE10, Opera 12, and Opera Next!