Monday, May 08, 2006

Opera Internet Browser - India Specific Features Loaded

It has been close to month since Vasuki had earnestly suggested that I blog about the "out-of-this-world" features of Opera. It was then that I had told him how I myself have been a fan of this browser for two reasons. One (and without doubt) the rich feature-set of this browser that puts to shame even established players like Internet Explorer and Firefox. Two, and the more important reason for my usage of this browser - The Indian context. Now that might come surprising, but wait till I tell you the entire story.

Fetch the website - Whatever the Internet bandwidth
Blazing Fast Internet or Agonizingly Slow Internet - Whatever be the case. Call it the "Pull Pull till you Get" technology, but the folks at Opera have designed a browser that is conducive to the Internet conditions in the developing world. Having been in the US for a considerable period, the luxurious Internet speeds that I enjoyed had lulled me into a complacency that speeds in India too would not differ by a lot much. Moreover technology too was playing its part and there were everyday stories of broadband making its presence felt in India. However the picture was grim. The dialup had not yet vanished and broadband was "Broad" only on paper. No site opened up on Firefox or Internet Explorer without giving up 3-4 times midway between page load and throwing up the infamous "404 - Page not found error". But Opera was technically designed differently. It keeps hammering away at a site, fetches and loads the pages albeit a tad slower than its better known cousins. I don't mind that as long as it saves me from manually asking the browser to re-try. Opera automatically does it for me. And now I have Opera 9 Beta version that is a much more improved descendant. (You can also tweak around with the number of connections that Opera opens with the website that allows for faster downloads and prefetching of links.) I really appreciate the Opera team's forethought on this one.



Opera for the Indian Cyber cafes
There are hardly any cyber-cafes in the developed world. However the masses in developing nations like India access Internet via the neighborhood kiosk or cyber cafe. With Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox, one needs added features to restrict user modification of the browser. Opera comes bundled with is the Kiosk mode that it offers. Full-screen mode is enabled by default when Opera is started in this mode. Desktop and system access remains disabled as the shortcuts like "Alt+Tab", "Ctrl+Esc" and "Alt+Esc" are not honoured. User is not allowed to exit from full screen mode. For a full set of features in this mode go here

Also, a technically un-superseded browser
And for the technically inclined, Opera at a mere 5 MB download offers features that even Internet Explorer 7 ( a 11 Mb download ) fails to. The absolutely stunning features are listed below ( Opera 9 )

  1. Tabbed browsing that allows a preview of what is contained in a tab when you just hover your mouse over the respective tab ( Scores over the Internet Explorer 7 thumbnail tab )
  2. Reload every ... seconds feature that allows you to set Opera to reload a particular web-page repeatedly every few seconds or minutes. ( Great feature to have in case you want to increase the visitor count to your page. I suppose that is the devil in me speaking )
  3. AJAX Widgets that allow nifty functionalities to be added to your desktop, quite similar to Firefox extensions. The difference though is that their functionality is available via any application on Windows through a neat little button at the top of the desktop.
  4. Inbuilt Bit Torrent download abilities.
  5. Mouse Gestures can be used to browse and navigate within Opera.
  6. Browsing and navigation can also be voice enabled by downloading a voice recognition package ( a additional 10 MB download ).

And as a parting word, for the few like me who in spite of all these features had not taken to Opera due to the lack of shortcut standardization and standardized CSS style sheet display, Opera 9 Beta fixes all this. Hooray !!!! Now a "Ctrl+Enter" adds the 'www' and the '.com' at the start and end of a website name. And a "Ctrl+T" opens a new tab instead of the former "Ctrl+N". For the complete list go here

Impressed? Download Opera 9 Beta or Opera 8.5 and forget all your bandwidth woes for once.

4 comments:

Bit Hawk said...

This is an amazing article. A pretty long one, but damn interesting.
30 Days to Become an Opera lover

Vijay said...

It is truly a inspirational article for anybody willing to go for the switchover. Both a tutorial and a good reading par excellence.

Anonymous said...

Opera 9 beta is slow and sluggish and also crashed a few times. I used it for a day and switched back to 8.5

Vijay said...

It has been close to a week now that I have started using Opera 9 and it hasn't crashed even once. I suspect it has got to do with the way your local environment is set up. I would suggest you go through the official website and re-assess your environment in light of the system requirements specified there. However, I would have persisted with it for more than day to get a hang of the other innovative features mentioned there. You can also try the Opera forums at opera.com to see if there are other users who have had similar complaints.

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