Opera 15 is a fresh start, not the end

Opera Software made a bold move earlier this year when the company announced that it would use WebKit as its rendering engine and V8 as the JavaScript engine for all new products. Later on it revealed that it would follow Google and use the Blink Fork instead of WebKit, but that did not change the explosiveness of the move.

It took the Norwegian company five months to release the first final version of Opera for PCs that is powered by the new engines. While that seems like a long time for users who wanted to find out how the change would affect them personally, the development time is not that long.

The result is a browser that disappoints the majority of Opera users and interested bystanders. The main reason for this is that folks expected Opera Software to deliver the same browser with improved engines. So, a faster, stable, more compliant new version but with the same functionality as the old Opera.

While Opera 15 is indeed a lot faster than Opera 12, at least when you use the usual benchmarks to measure the performance, much of what made the browser great is not offered in the new version.

This includes basic features such as bookmarking or data synchronization between Opera versions, but also features that Opera is well known for like browser interface customization or better tab handling. If you rely on any of the features, Opera 15 must surely look like an utter failure.

Opera Software adds to the confusion and uncertainty by not revealing a list of features that it plans to integrate into the browser and features that it has decided against. Opera 15 fails on many levels from a user perspective which is especially disheartening for long time consumers.

While it is possible to overcome some issues, like the missing bookmarks feature, by installing browser extensions, most features are not that easily integrated into the browser.

A New Beginning

The Norwegian browser maker announced that it will continue to update the Opera 12.x branch with security and stability patches for some time to come. The company knows very well that many users are not going to upgrade to the new version anytime soon due to missing features. Heck, it gets hundreds of comments whenever a new release is announced on the Desktop Team Blog, with users who, for the most part, criticize the latest Opera.

The main reason why Opera 12.x is maintained is that Opera 15 is not a finished product. It is the first version of a new browser, and the Norwegian company knows very well that the latest version is lacking a lot of features that users of previous releases have come to expect from it.

Opera Software has already announced that it will push out new features in coming releases including support for themes, improved tab handling and synchronization. It may take some releases, and maybe another six months or maybe even a year, before most missing features are integrated into the new Opera.

While it is not clear if all features from Opera 12.x will find their way into future versions, it is likely that many will, and that Opera 16, 17 or 18 (to name a few) will please more users who are writing the browser off right now.

If you look around, you can see that other browser makers also need a considerable amount of time to implement new features. Mozilla has been working on the new Australis design for years and it is still not here yet. Six months is not that long to create a brand new browser, and that is what Opera 15 is.

It may have the same name but mostly everything needs to be created from scratch. Will it be just like Opera 12 only with faster engines? No, that is not very likely. But it is likely that the end product will resemble Opera more than it does Google Chrome.

That's why Opera 15 is just the start of a new journey, and not the end of it. It does not make sense to make rushed decisions based on that first release, considering that existing users can use the 12.x branch of the browser for some time to come.

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