Opera brags about record downloads of own security patch and blames Microsoft

Opera brags about record downloads of own security patch and blames Microsoft

Summary: I woke up this morning to find a press release in my inbox from the Oslo, Norway-based cross platform browser maker Opera Software that I simply couldn't let go without some commentary.  The headline of the press release reads "Security concerns drive record downloads of Opera 8.

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TOPICS: Browser
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I woke up this morning to find a press release in my inbox from the Oslo, Norway-based cross platform browser maker Opera Software that I simply couldn't let go without some commentary.  The headline of the press release reads "Security concerns drive record downloads of Opera 8.51:  Online shoppers seek browser alternatives during holiday season" and goes on to say that the company:

...today revealed that online security concerns have prompted record downloads of Opera 8.51, the latest version of Opera’s award-winning Web browser. The surge in downloads can be attributed in part to the detection of additional, severe security flaws in Internet Explorer. Since its debut less than one week ago, more than one million people have downloaded it...

Something about "Opera" and "security" started to ring a bell with me (not a good one at that) and then, after re-reading the press release, I noticed the words (in the aforementioned paragraph) "in part."  A quick search of ZDNet's news archive revealed what the other part was.  Exactly one week ago, Opera Software reported that it patched  a security flaw in its own browser -- one that, according to the news report, could "allow malicious attackers to remotely take control of a user's system."  The update was labeled by the company as Opera 8.51 (yes, the same version mentioned in today's press release) and the company issued an advisory on November 22 entitled Opera 8.51 for Desktop: Download the latest maintenance, stability, and security release.

So far, we have a company that has issued a new version of its own product to fix a security problem with the old version and that same company is bragging about how the number of downloads of the new version comes as result of security concerns over the competitor's software (not its own).  This didn't add up so I decided to do some real math.  Looking back to September, I found a news report that talked about how Opera started giving away the banner ad-free version of its normally US$39-priced browser.  That was version 8.5.  Then I found a report where Opera boasted of how the move to give away its software resulted in 1.6 million downloads.  A little more than a week after that, the company issued a press release that said "More than three million new users have downloaded the Opera browser in the two weeks since the company launched its free browser."  So, if the downloading stopped there, then that means there are at least 3 million copies of the browser in the market.  Meanwhile, 1 million people have downloaded the new more secure version. 

Is it possible that most if not all of those downloads came from existing Opera users that were concerned with Opera 8.5's security and not Internet Explorer's?  So, now, not only do we have a company that's managed to attribute the downloads of a security fix to a problem with another company's software, we also have a company with at least 2 million customers that still need the new version.  Is this a new PR tactic? 1. Issue broken software.  2. Wait until a few million people download it.  3.  Issue a fix.  4. Wait until at least 1 million people download the fix.  5.  Use the opportunity to blame your competitor for the "good news?" 

For the sake of media transparency, I've published the full text of the press release here.

Topic: Browser

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61 comments
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  • And the the users will use the application...

    And realize that Opera isn't ready for the real world where not everything follows a standard.
    ju1ce
    • Re: And the the users will use the application...

      Opera knows very well that not everything follows a standard.

      If what you said were true, Opera wouldn't have worked ANYWHERE since NO sites are standards compliant.

      Of course, you are wrong, and Opera actively works to make sure broken sites work.
      nogginz
  • Opera or ... Operetta?!

    Funny! I truly enjoyed reading this article.

    There are countless examples of how companies try to exploit security fears and flaws of competitive products and yet they end up looking very silly. How about those unbreakable clusters? ;-)
    the_fiddler_on_the_roof
    • But do they look silly?

      You're right.
      This is a good comment. Mr. Berlind did his homework and identified a misleading press release.

      The problem is, how many people are going to read Mr. Berlind's comment compared to the number being misled by a statement by Opera?

      The people who issued the press release may be wrong, but how many recipients will know? And how many will believe it because of their pre-existing attitude about IE?
      Anton Philidor
  • Disappointed.

    I had preferred Opera to Mozilla browsers because Opera pays staff while Mozilla relies on volunteers to an extent and because Mozilla received essential monetary support to produce a device browser intended to put people out of work.

    Opera also made some valid criticisms of Microsoft that probably improved some web sites. And they removed the ads from the free version of their browser, making it a lot more useful.

    But now this.
    I haven't changed my opinion completely as a result, of course, but, having just listened to the overture, I'll quote the title of a Mozart Opera:
    Cosi fan Tutti
    Anton Philidor
    • So in otherwords....

      "I had preferred Opera to Mozilla browsers because Opera pays staff while Mozilla relies on volunteers to an extent and because Mozilla received essential monetary support to produce a device browser intended to put people out of work."

      So in otherwords you're not a supporter of volunteers helping sick kids, or volunteers feeding the poor in soup kitchens, or volunteers for big brothers/big sister organizations, or santa who volunteers his time for the kids at the mall (when for hte mall it's a marketing ploy).. Tons of "volunteering" efforts..

      After all.. They aren't getting paid. :P

      I know.. I know.. You're gonna change your tune because it's "different" when in fact... It's one in the same.. "Volunteering".

      "Opera also made some valid criticisms of Microsoft that probably improved some web sites. And they removed the ads from the free version of their browser, making it a lot more useful."

      Compared to Firefox (although Opera is faster), Opera is still incompatible with the majority of sites on the internet. Look at this site in Opera for instance. Here we have a technology site that can't even go with Opera standards.. or is it the other way around? I'll leave that judgement up to you.
      ju1ce
      • "Opera is ... incompatible with the majority of sites..."

        "... on the internet."?

        Why would anyone download such ineffectual software? And why, once having downloaded it, would anyone continue to use it?

        And what kind of person would spend $39 for software that so glaringly doesn't work?

        And I thought fooling people with a press release was bad news.


        Okay, okay, I'm exaggerating.
        The same way you were by saying that volunteering in a soup kitchen to help the poor is the same as volunteering to write software in order to put people out of a job.
        It'a all volunteering, indeed.
        Anton Philidor
        • Your intent is all wrong...

          "Why would anyone download such ineffectual software? And why, once having downloaded it, would anyone continue to use it?"

          That is what I'm still trying to figure out. I tried it for 2 weeks, and after one aggravation, after another, after another.. I got rid of it and went back to Firefox.

          "And what kind of person would spend $39 for software that so glaringly doesn't work?"

          The same type of people who spend money on things that are being offered for free that do just as good, or better a job of doing what it's supposed to do.

          "The same way you were by saying that volunteering in a soup kitchen to help the poor is the same as volunteering to write software in order to put people out of a job"

          So then you're obviously against Microsoft since they've put many people out of a job. They've put many companies under..

          And again, Opera, Firefox and them isn't to put people out of a job.. It's to compete. :P

          If you want to look at culprits putting people out of jobs.. Blame companies like Dell, Microsoft, Unions and the like for making people lose jobs.
          ju1ce
          • Competition.

            When one company and its paid staff competes against another company and its paid staff, that's competition.
            And when one company loses and goes out of business producing unemployment, that's a misfortune for the people involved.

            But that misfortune is part of the (what?) dialectic of a competitive economy.
            In principle, I'd wish that competition did not have to be destructive. But I've seen, we've seen what happens when that wish is put into effect. The economy becomes so inefficient that everyone is damaged.
            The misfortune of a creative economy is that people are damaged. The redeeming virtue is that a creative economy does, or should create new jobs to replace those lost.

            Completely without justification is volunteering labor to replace paid labor. The idea that software is different from any other industry is not reasonable enough to make someone comfortable putting another person out of work. I think.


            The economy in the US is, I think, becoming less creative than just evaporating.

            The job losses at GM at least are a response to the buyers' market. The cars are being sold as cheap as the competition with all the discounts. But people are not choosing GM cars in sufficient numbers.

            The really damaging situation is exemplified at Delphi.
            Under the bankruptcy, the company wants to reduce hourly wages to $10. That will make them competitive with offshore workers. It will also cause many people to lose their homes because the money received will not allow them to meet their mortgage payment.

            And where else is a Delphi worker to go for similar wages?
            The principle asserted is that if the less sophisticated jobs are exported, the country can create new sophisticated jobs. But the obvious corollary is that the people getting those jobs will be those able to do them.
            But what happens to the other people?
            They will have to take lower paying jobs. $10 an hour at Delphi may start to look good to them. That reduces the total money available in the economy, which hurts.

            So it's not about companies like Dell and Microsoft, or the unions which have been defeated by this trend. The economic forces at work are a lot bigger than Microsoft and Dell.


            Open source is far from the most damaging trend, even in IT. The problems it creates are worth mentioning only because the whole economy is vulnerable, and even a comparartively small amount of damage has to be considered.

            The good news is, the open source damage can stop any time people decide to stop it. And it's often difficult to see why people shouldn't make the decision to do no harm.
            Anton Philidor
          • Competition..

            "When one company and its paid staff competes against another company and its paid staff, that's competition.
            And when one company loses and goes out of business producing unemployment, that's a misfortune for the people involved."

            Both methods are competition.
            ju1ce
          • Only one method of competition.

            I wrote:

            When one company and its paid staff competes against another company and its paid staff, that's competition.

            The result of that competiton can be:

            And when one company loses and goes out of business producing unemployment, that's a misfortune for the people involved."

            Sorry you were confused.
            Anton Philidor
          • And again...

            It's competition either way...

            What I wonder is.. Why would anyone pay money to actually (other than through hidden costs of windows) own a Browser when one is incorporated into the Operating System...

            Users crack me up at times.. This would be one of those times.

            This is why MS is an anti-trust and should not be allowed to integrate anything further into the O/S.. They destroy the competition.
            ju1ce
          • Competition.

            When one company and its paid staff competes against another company and its paid staff, that's competition.
            And when one company loses and goes out of business producing unemployment, that's a misfortune for the people involved.

            But that misfortune is part of the (what?) dialectic of a competitive economy.
            In principle, I'd wish that competition did not have to be destructive. But I've seen, we've seen what happens when that wish is put into effect. The economy becomes so inefficient that everyone is damaged.
            The misfortune of a creative economy is that people are damaged. The redeeming virtue is that a creative economy does, or should create new jobs to replace those lost.

            Completely without justification is volunteering labor to replace paid labor. The idea that software is different from any other industry is not reasonable enough to make someone comfortable putting another person out of work. I think.


            The economy in the US is, I think, becoming less creative than just evaporating.

            The job losses at GM at least are a response to the buyers' market. The cars are being sold as cheap as the competition with all the discounts. But people are not choosing GM cars in sufficient numbers.

            The really damaging situation is exemplified at Delphi.
            Under the bankruptcy, the company wants to reduce hourly wages to $10. That will make them competitive with offshore workers. It will also cause many people to lose their homes because the money received will not allow them to meet their mortgage payment.

            And where else is a Delphi worker to go for similar wages?
            The principle asserted is that if the less sophisticated jobs are exported, the country can create new sophisticated jobs. But the obvious corollary is that the people getting those jobs will be those able to do them.
            But what happens to the other people?
            They will have to take lower paying jobs. $10 an hour at Delphi may start to look good to them. That reduces the total money available in the economy, which hurts.

            So it's not about companies like Dell and Microsoft, or the unions which have been defeated by this trend. The economic forces at work are a lot bigger than Microsoft and Dell.


            Open source is far from the most damaging trend, even in IT. The problems it creates are worth mentioning only because the whole economy is vulnerable, and even a comparartively small amount of damage has to be considered.

            The good news is, the open source damage can stop any time people decide to stop it. And it's often difficult to see why people shouldn't make the decision to do no harm.
            Anton Philidor
          • Liars

            You guys are absolutely lying your @sses off, and trolling to the highest extent.

            I'm typing this post using Opera.

            I regularily use Opera, FireFox, Mozilla, Epiphany, and Konqueror. They all work great, and only rarely do I come across a site that is unsupported. With Opera, that has never happened.

            In fact, Opera even has a feature that you can have it broadcast that it is Internet Explorer, and enable the usage of ActiveX, in case the web site in question is so lame as to rely on IE extensions.

            So stop spreading lies. If you don't like Opera, fine, don't use it. But don't try to prevent others from trying it by making egredious false statements about it.

            Of course, Opera lied it's butt off with it's press release. I don't condone that, but it's nice to see MS and it's legions of paid astroturfers/trolls get a taste of their own medicine.
            boobasaurus
          • Huh?

            When it's the lie you support, the lie is acceptable? Have you considered running for office?

            I fell in love with it but have since all but gave up on Opera 8.5. I visit a lot of messageboards and many embed wmv, rm and qt files and Opera simply cannot do them. And it is attrocious with Gmail. But I digress. Opera is puffing with this lie and it really doesn't need to. It's a good browser and can get even better if it would do a few additional things right.
            Jazhawk
          • Liars

            You guys are absolutely lying your @sses off, and trolling to the highest extent.

            I'm typing this post using Opera.

            I regularily use Opera, FireFox, Mozilla, Epiphany, and Konqueror. They all work great, and only rarely do I come across a site that is unsupported. With Opera, that has never happened.

            In fact, Opera even has a feature that you can have it broadcast that it is Internet Explorer, and enable the usage of ActiveX, in case the web site in question is so lame as to rely on IE extensions.

            So stop spreading lies. If you don't like Opera, fine, don't use it. But don't try to prevent others from trying it by making egredious false statements about it.

            Of course, Opera lied it's butt off with it's press release. I don't condone that, but it's nice to see MS and it's legions of paid astroturfers/trolls get a taste of their own medicine.
            boobasaurus
        • Your intent is all wrong...

          "Why would anyone download such ineffectual software? And why, once having downloaded it, would anyone continue to use it?"

          That is what I'm still trying to figure out. I tried it for 2 weeks, and after one aggravation, after another, after another.. I got rid of it and went back to Firefox.

          "And what kind of person would spend $39 for software that so glaringly doesn't work?"

          The same type of people who spend money on things that are being offered for free that do just as good, or better a job of doing what it's supposed to do.

          "The same way you were by saying that volunteering in a soup kitchen to help the poor is the same as volunteering to write software in order to put people out of a job"

          So then you're obviously against Microsoft since they've put many people out of a job. They've put many companies under..

          And again, Opera, Firefox and them isn't to put people out of a job.. It's to compete. :P

          If you want to look at culprits putting people out of jobs.. Blame companies like Dell, Microsoft, Unions and the like for making people lose jobs.
          ju1ce
        • Your intent is all wrong...

          "Why would anyone download such ineffectual software? And why, once having downloaded it, would anyone continue to use it?"

          That is what I'm still trying to figure out. I tried it for 2 weeks, and after one aggravation, after another, after another.. I got rid of it and went back to Firefox.

          "And what kind of person would spend $39 for software that so glaringly doesn't work?"

          The same type of people who spend money on things that are being offered for free that do just as good, or better a job of doing what it's supposed to do.

          "The same way you were by saying that volunteering in a soup kitchen to help the poor is the same as volunteering to write software in order to put people out of a job"

          So then you're obviously against Microsoft since they've put many people out of a job. They've put many companies under..

          And again, Opera, Firefox and them isn't to put people out of a job.. It's to compete. :P

          If you want to look at culprits putting people out of jobs.. Blame companies like Dell, Microsoft, Unions and the like for making people lose jobs.
          ju1ce
          • "Competing"

            Problem is, it all too easy to "compete" using workers you don't remunerate.
            srdiamond
          • How is that your problem?

            It's called volunteering for a reason..

            People contribute to a variety of projects during their free time. I create modules for DotNetNuke.. So your point is?

            I enjoy programming.. My name out there as a programmer means more than the end result of coin. Coin is a nice bonus mind you.. but it's not my intent when I'm doing it.
            ju1ce