Time to move on: Final patch for Opera 12 due by mid-2014

Time to move on: Final patch for Opera 12 due by mid-2014

Summary: Opera appears to have made up its mind on the question of updates for Opera 12: the last will come by mid-2014, along with an automatic update that will push millions over to the new browser.

TOPICS: Browser, EU

Time is nearly up for those web users devoted to Opera 12, Opera's last browser build to ship with Presto, as the Norwegian software firm will begin nudging users on to newer builds before mid-2014.

Given Opera's announced switch from its own Presto layout engine and custom JavaScript engine to WebKit and Chromium in February (and its subsequent move to Google's Blink), it's little surprise Opera that would at some stage drop support for its legacy browser. However, until now, the company hasn't answered the question on exactly when that would happen.

In July, when Opera released its first Blink/Chromium-based stable build, Opera 15, a developer on Opera's desktop team said it would deliver security updates for Opera 12 "for some time", in particular because the newer browsers were shipping without features that users liked in the older version. That, and the radical overhaul of the UI, meant it wasn't possible to force upgrades through an automatic update.

Opera confirmed version 12.15 for Linux, Mac and Windows would be updated to 12.16, but it wasn't clear whether it would be the next or last build — and it still hasn't been released.

Five months on from shipping its first new-generation browser and with the stable build of Opera 18 for Windows and Mac out yesterday, Krystian Kolondra, Opera Software's senior vice-president for desktop products, thinks the browser is nearly good enough to begin persuading those lingering on its Presto browser onto newer versions.

"We think we can offer people something to move to fully. In our builds that we have released so far, you can try experimental synchronisation, and already in the stable versions you can enable bookmarks, stars and things like that," Kolandra told ZDNet.

"There are some things that we are still working on getting and polishing and making sure this is a rock solid browser for everyone. So once we have that, we can recommend it really to everyone. Even people that have old browsing habits, even they could really go ahead and switch."

While die-hard fans of Opera 12 had hoped the company would support the browser for an extended time, Kolandra said it's probably going to pull the plug on the browser within the next six months.

"As of today, we're supporting Presto — whenever there is a security issue — and we still have a user base there and as long as this is big enough, we want to make sure these users can use our product in a safe manner," he said.

"But once we update everyone, of course we will be stopping. I can’t say whether it will be a one day and we stop immediately or we stop and wait some time for people to update. We will probably do the latter, but this moment will come eventually."

When asked for a specific date for the final release, Kolondra said: "We don't have a date yet, but definitely shorter than next year. It's likely to happen in the next six months."

At that point he said Opera would automatically upgrade Opera 12 users to a more recent version of its browser.

But will Opera be able force the move without losing significant chunk of its user base?

Kolondra thinks the numbers so far suggest they might stick around. "We're getting close to we will have 50 percent of people already on the new browser. We're really excited about that. Even without forcing uptake, we see uptake is quite encouraging."

Over the past year, Opera's desktop users have fallen from 55 million to 51 million, meaning it still has around 25 million users that it risks losing if they don't like the change.

But perhaps more importantly for the company, the value of those users in revenue terms has fallen even faster. Opera's desktop revenues in the third quarter of this year, driven by search dollars from Google under a two-year search deal set to expire in August 2014, were just $13.8m.

That was down 25 percent on the $18m in desktop revenues it earned a year ago — when it was Opera's largest source of income. Now desktop is a distant third to mobile advertising and carrier dollars, which brought in $30m and $17m respectively that quarter.

Further reading

Topics: Browser, EU

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • I'm not switching

    I'm not switching to the blink/chromium based version until they add tab stacking. I'd rather use firefox or chrome until then.
  • Opera seems to be doing everything they can to annoy Presto fans,

    they can't "force" an "upgrade" to the Blink infested version, though I'm sure they would like to, just like they would appreciate the users not speaking out about issues in the user forums, so much so that the regular My Opera forums are shutting down in March 2014, as well as all the personal blog space, image hosting, and the Opera Mail service! Opera 12.16 has been available for a few months, but I don't use it much as I prefer 11.64 myself. Even 11.64 had introduced some nagging little bugs, and versions 12.XX continued them as well as new ones. The primary Presto developers are already long gone, so I don't expect more than just updates for severe security issues.
    I'm not going to rehash the complaints about Blink Opera here, if anyone is interested they can search the Opera user forums, while they are still up, and judge for themselves.
  • Opera 12.16 already exists

    "Opera confirmed version 12.15 for Linux, Mac and Windows would be updated to 12.16, but it wasn't clear whether it would be the next or last build — and it still hasn't been released."

    Opera 12.16 is out since several months...
  • THERE ARE SETTINGS - The update can't be forced

    Don't try to make it sound like it's going to be a forced update, users who disable the auto-update in the browser settings obviously won't be upgraded to the new version.
  • multilines tabs, the only decent bookmark manager.. all gone

    it's so sad.. I cant believe after so many years I'll have to look for another options. Everything that made opera good and unique is gone. I'm no hipster and I can go along with mainstream trends with no objection, but.. to make opera just another browser like all the others.. ouch, it hurts. I'll just use Lynx until the grief is over (yeah, sure).
    • My sentiments too...

      I empathise, marcianito. Won't ever feel comfortable with a browser close to Google, either. Comodo 'Ice Dragon' is going to see me to my next browser. Twelve years of using a browser I learned to trust and enjoy !
      Adieu, mon ami !
  • Mail in Opera

    Still using 12.16, the best Opera version.
    For me, the great advantage of Opera until 12.16 is the integrated e-mail manager, still one of the best around.
    No, I don't like "Opera Mail" which can't open pages in tabs close to mail tabs and depends on other browsers, which in turn, reduces productivity a lot -- not to mention it includes more bugs, no themes etc.
    Want me to upgrade? Bring Mail to new version and, please, don't strip functions the way you like to do, fake-Opera team.
  • It's not just a matter of opinion.......

    Opera had a very good thing with v.12.1x. I understand their perspective a little. But it is not a big challenge to retain the current user base while bringing in new users. It would be a given if they could create the new browser that embraces the power and functionality of the original platform. I am speaking primarily about user interface.

    Opera's Chromium based offering of today, which is stripped of most of the usable features from the original Opera, is not even worth my consideration because avid users could actually create their own web browser using readily available source from the internet and make it even better with more functionality than what Opera has given us.
    Any user that is content and attracted to the Chromium based Opera would make up a super small percentage of users who really do not need much functionality from a web browser. It's very easy to find a browser that offers what the new Opera has. It's just not a complete browser. I'm waiting for the real browser and still, after 3 different user versions, and dozens of updates, they have not delivered.

    New Opera is just a Get in, Get out type of browser. For those who just need a quick search and find. Maybe connect to a few web pages to pay a few bills or maybe do a little banking. But Opera Chromium doesn't offer anything special. All browsers can easily match this functionality. And to expect people to agree to upgrade from 12.17 to your Chromium based browser, it needs to at least rival Opera 12.1x in more ways than what I have seen so far. Not one function of the Chromium version is better than the the Opera version using Presto. Maybe from a programmers point of view and a few select users the Chromium engine might make sense. But you read it here. The loss of revenue and 10% of the user base. It all happened during the time Opera was trying to take away our steak and feed us hot dogs.

    I don't care that a company wants to make changes in how the develop their browser. Go for it. But the term "UPGRADE" is not open for interpretation. IMHO, you do not have the right to use the name "OPERA" for any of the browsers you are pushing our way. A true Opera User knows this is NOT Opera. And you might have bought the rights to carry the name. But you have not earned the respect to do so. It takes alot of arrogance to do what Opera Company is doing to the 50+ million desktop users that are responsible for the revenue that carried them for a time. We were committed because we saw what others were missing. We made that connection and stood by you. And arrogance is the word I keep using because it's the only word that seems appropriate.

    I really gave positive comments when the first few versions of the Chromium browser were released. I did so because i believed in Opera Company and what they stood for at the beginning. But later I learned what was really going on. And to make it simple, I will say it.... to change over to chromium browser was decision made because it made more sense due to the fact that is is more cost effective. They do not want to invest the money to bring presto to the level it needs to be to compete with the 3 Big Engines that dominate the market. IE, MOZILLA, and Chromium.

    To be honest, the truth sucks. But Opera is no longer being run by those who pioneered our beloved version 12.1x. I do not know specifically who to point the finger at. But they sold out. They gave it up and now have profit as a motivator. They saw more profit when switching to chromium. They may be able to overcome some difficulties that are financial in nature but unless a user interface can offer something equally appealing as version 12.1x, there really is no good reason they should expect to succeed. I predict Opera Company will fall through the cracks and disappear, giving way to new options that will have learned from Opera's mistakes, while taking advantage of the sensible things they were doing since the inception of their original browser. Don't be fooled by all the hype. The new version isn't even marginally close to being half the browser as Opera 12.1x.

    If they want see their share of the desktop market decline even more, simply make the announcement that Opera 12.1x is final and dead, without any plans of support or development in the future. I would love to see what happens.

    One guy, whom I still think is an Opera Employee trolling the message boards, said that if Opera loses a portion of their user base from this big change, it will exceed how many users they lose. I finally ended our message exchanges with a peaceful tone but my feeling has not changed. Opera has truly ruined any hope of becoming somewhat of a player in the desktop market. It is just not going to happen with a chromium browser. But what they have done is maintain a higher profit margin because continued development of the Presto platform would no doubt be more costly and it does complicate some things from a programmers standpoint. Web page development is not based on a single standard. We have a few. IE, Mozilla, and Chromium. Adding Presto to the mix is just not cost effective. But even switching to Chromium won't do much IMO. It might make the profit margin a little better but I wish they would stop trying to pretend like it is our best interest they are thinking about. Offering 3 versions to give previews of upcoming potential features. They make it seem like we can write our own browsers by telling them what we think about some of these things. IMO, this is a clever rouse to make it seem like they put our interests at the forefront. Don't believe it. It's money. For their pockets, not our interest. But what gets me is they do not seem very interested to toss a few of the much sought after features from the previous UI that many gave up asking them to do. Again, the term arrogance comes to mind.

    Maybe I am not in the know concerning all aspects of the so called new ideas, which I would be completely open to. Only if they showed more attention to the users from their 55 million user base, who spoke up about features and UI. Just because you only see a couple hundred complaints from your user base, you assume they are the only users who are unhappy with your decision. You silently lost 5 million users on the desktop platform and I would venture to say these users probably did not like what was happening. Maybe some speculation with the ideas we users have. But what else can we do when you don't say much. In fact you just don't say anything. And giving us a stripped down web browser, with limited functionality until you can figure it out does not set well with alot of people. Not much security in those actions.

    As a final word, and thought. Today, Internet Explorer mentioned a very severe security issue in their Browser. They even went so far as to recommend all users use an alternative browser until they can correct the security issue. The listed Mozilla Fire-Fox, and Google Chrome as options. No mention of Opera. So I think due to lack of popularity, Opera would not want to risk losing any of the user base they currently have. A very big part of Opera's current user base is using version 12.1x. That should be nuff said.
  • I am slowly switching to...

    (shudder!) VASTLY inferior Firefox...

    Why? It's becoming harder and harder to find sites that work under Genuine Opera (This site, among many more, and the list gets bigger every day).

    And don't even THINK Opera AB can convince me, a user since version 3.6, after 16 years, to accept being neutered à la Windows 8. Might as well get a frontal lobotomy!

    I have already stopped using Opera as my mobile browserwhen they dumbed it down. I have switched to Android when Microsoft moved from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone and I finally took the bull by the horns and decided enough was enough and have started to liberate my PCs from the servitude of Vista and 7 to Windows XP again.

    If 50% of Opera users are hard-core, experienced users like me, it better acknowledge that fact or it will fold. And no amount of bullying will work on us regarding so-called 'security'. But that's another story better suited to a political forum...