Google annoys Opera users who won't switch to Chrome

Google annoys Opera users who won't switch to Chrome

Summary: This is how monopolies work. If you use Opera to create or edit posts on Google's Blogger network, you'll see a nagging message. And you'll keep seeing those nags until you switch to Chrome.

TOPICS: Google

Last week Google supposedly offered an olive branch to EU antitrust authorities who are investigating the world's largest online advertising company for its anticompetitive practices.

They better cut phone lines between Norway and Brussels, because you can bet that the makers of Opera are on the phone to EU authorities over a recent move by Google.

If you use the Opera browser (proudly made in Norway) to create or edit a post on Google's Blogger service, here's what you see:


This is new behavior, first noted by Bob Leggitt, who says it began occurring on June 27.

I downloaded the Opera browser and dusted off my old, rarely used Blogger account to confirm that this behavior is indeed occurring.

And you cannot make those nagging messages go away. Any visit to a page in the Blogger content-editing interface results in this nag screen, and although you can dismiss the message, it will keep coming back until you finally decide that the headache isn't worth it and click the "try Google Chrome" link that Google has helpfully provided for you.

This is how monopolies work. Google's competitive position in online advertising is so impenetrable that Microsoft was forced earlier this week to take a $6.2-billion write-off as an acknowledgment that its $6-billion acquisition of Aquantive in 2007 had failed to make a dent in AdWords, DoubleClick, and other Google-owned advertising networks.

Opera has negligible market share in desktop computing, tallying only 1.6% and 1.77% in the latest numbers from Net Market Share and StatCounter, respectively.

But it's a mark of pure arrogance from a company that isn't afraid to act like Microsoft (1998) when it needs to muscle out a competitor.

The Google roadblock for Opera is crude. If you change the User-Agent string for Opera so that it identifies itself as Google Chrome, the Blogger editing and management screens work perfectly.

Consider it a shot across the bow. If Google can muscle out Opera, its next target will probably be Firefox, which signed a lucrative search deal with Google last December that gave it a three-year lease on life but ceded absolute control of Mozilla's future to Google.

It's hard to imagine that this action won't raise some eyebrows among EU antitrust authorities.

Topic: Google

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  • Is this only for opera?

    or does it effect firefox, IE, and safari too?
    • This is bad blogging!

      That happens with most browsers they do not support and Google Blogger is not the only site that does this.
      • You left something out

        You have some examples? No?
        Ed Bott
        • Yes

          This happened all the time on Youtube with some older versions of IE and once you updated the browser to newer versions of IE the message went away.

          Typically Ed, I enjoy your articles but this one is off.
          • What a nonsense comment

            What a nonsense comment. YouTube did it with very old versions of IE, not modern versions. This message appears with any version of Opera and as the User Agent change notes, it's not that the site is actually incompatible anyway.
          • So it sounds like Youtube didn't support outdated browsers

            And that's nothing new at all in computing. Lots of things don't support older outdated stuff.

            What this sounds like is that they are forcing people to switch to Chrome, not because Opera needs to be updated, instead that Google identifies it simply as "Opera", and targets an ad at it.

            Note that they said if you trick Google into thinking you're using Chrome, it goes away.
            William Farrel
          • Both YouTube and Yahoo!

            Both YouTube and Yahoo! mail give me warnings that I am using IE 7 and need to upgrade to 'a modern browser', even though I am in fact running IE 9.

            Why neither Yahoo! nor YouTube can correctly identify my browser I have no idea..
            Doctor Demento
          • Check the Compatibility View flag

            If CV is turned on, your browser reports itself as IE7.
            Ed Bott
      • It's what makes America great.

        Firefox 13.0.1 doesn't do this with Blogger. How do you have an opinion if you don't know what you're talking about?
    • Plausible deniability.

      Absolutely it will only be for Opera. They can simply say, the market share of Opera means that it's not officially supported by Google and that there was an error in the coding of the nag screen that prevented it from being dismissed.

      They would be SOL if they tried that excuse with IE or Firefox.

      In fact, what I proposed may actually turn out to be the truth. But, as always, big business often uses such tactics. And it wouldn't surprise me in the least that Google are simply "testing the waters" with this approach.

      If this ripple doesn't cause a splash, then expect more stones to be thrown in the lake.
      • That coding error excuse only goes so far

        they used it on Android, Wifi snooping, and one or two other things (I believe, not swearing to it)

        How many times can they get away with calling it "a coding error"?.
        William Farrel
    • Opera only at this point

      As I noted in this post, if you change the User-Agent string so that Opera appears to be Google Chrome, the error messages disappear. However, if you use Opera, there is no way to make the nagging messages go away.
      Ed Bott
      • Does it actually fix incompatibilities?

        Ed, you say when you lie to Blogger the message goes away. Does this actually fix all the issues that Blogger has with Opera, or does it simply hide the message. Google has let you know there are issues with using Opera and have offered a resolution to those issues. If that's a problem, are there not other blogging tools available? Why don't you just use Opera's blogger network if you feel you have to use the Opera browser?
      • About User-Agent

        I don't think there is Chrome User-Agent in Opera. Only Firefox and IE for masking and identifying.
        Wolf War
    • It affects other browsers, too.

      Like many sites, google is choosing to provide official support only for specific browsers and for specific versions of those browsers, e.g. recent versions of Firefox, Safari, IE, and Chrome, which represent the vast majority of browsers in use today. Where they may cross a line is in adding a link to encourage people to switch to Chrome or if they end up creating substantial, "Chrome-only" features.

      Google is not singling out Opera. The same message also shows up when using less common browsers like iCab (if user agent spoofing is disabled), TenFourFox, or OmniWeb, or even relatively recent browsers like Firefox 3.6.28.
    • Firefox too.. absurd move by Google..

      Not just Opera but saw this just now in Firefox too.. My wife's an avid blogger user and she just showed me the same stupid message in Firefox.. Just checked her version, its still Firefox 10 (put its for update now... ) maybe thats why, but still a stupid move.. And to push Chrome so shamelessly.. Anyway I did not check in my PC whether the same message is coming in a fully updated firefox.. Too lazy to do that.. Really disappointed the way Google is doing this...
  • How monopolies work, Ed?

    "This is how monopolies work. If you use Opera to create or edit posts on Google's Blogger network, you'll see a nagging message. And you'll keep seeing those nags until you switch to Chrome."

    How is Blogger, Chrome, or Google in any way a monopoly, here?

    I don't see the connection between Google's position in advertising to their position in blogging. Care to enlighten us?

    Don't get me wrong - I think Google is being a little scummy to Opera users on their turf, but I don't see a big enough level of lock-in for those users that they can't easily move to some other blogging platform.
    • How monopolies work, Ed?


      Ed did not accuse Google of being a monopoly.

      He simply meant that this type of behavior is how a monopoly would work.
      • oh come on!

        It's like saying : he didn't called your mom a whore, he just said that this type of behavior is how a whore would act.
    • Just as Microsoft used its monopoly position in desktop operating systems,

      Google is using its monopoly position in search and related areas to promote
      another of its products. Microsoft was taken to task and court for tying its
      browser and media player into the operating system. Google is following a
      similar tactic to promote its browser...I suspect that the rapid increase in the
      use of Google's Chrome browser is due to this type of "promotion". I received
      a similar message at Google Groups when using Opera 10.10 while booted
      into Slax, a small Linux distribution. Chrome may be a good browser, but to
      cram it down visitors throats is all to reminiscent of the messages some web
      sites used to throw at us "This site best views in Internet Explorer version XXX"
      or similar.
      Google is bullying Opera, but what they are forgetting is Opera is the one
      browser maker that took Microsoft to court in the EU, with the resulting decree
      that some "browser ballot" be included in Windows setup.