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I have never been particularly enamoured with the Internet Explorer, and even in the old days of Internet on Windows 3.1 (honestly!) I was much more of a Netscape girl.
Nowadays the main contenders (in the PC+Windows market, anyway) are clearly IE and Firefox (the amazing raise of the Firefox is one hopeful story for all those that doubt whether the better will ever oust the worse - it shows that if it's free and easily available, it probably, eventually, will). Chrome is raising fast, but Opera keeps trailing at around 2% - and it's a pity as it's my favourite browser by far.
I will not give you a long run of features and specs, because I am not an IT person and I can't make such professional judgements, but as a user I love Opera, mostly because it has very natural, user friendly interface. I find it extremely easy to operate intuitively (and have always done - this is what drew me to Opera in the first place, no need to manuals or trailing through Help files) which is ideal for a person who browses and interacts with a lot of websites. It is also supposedly very safe (partially because it's less common so it's not so worthwhile to try to hack).
The biggest advantages of Opera over Firefox (I will not compare to IE as it's not even worth considering) are in my opining as follows:
1) It's FAST. For some reason the pages load and the search results display noticeably quicker in Opera.
2) A brilliant wand feature which means that you can save your login data which works at a click of the mouse from a drop-down menu, so you don't need to type even the first letter(s) of your user name in to get the saved details. Faster, neater and easier than Firefox).
3) It is the only browser as far as I know that has "duplicate" feature. If you right click a tab you can choose to "duplicate" it, meaning exactly that - its exact copy (including the trail of pages leading to it) will appear in a new tab. I find I use this feature all the time when browsing.
4) It allows you to open pages in background tabs when you right click the link or jump straight to the newly opened tab. Firefox doesn't have this choice.
5) It has a brilliant "personals" function which makes it extremely quickly to complete any web forms (let's say registrations at websites, competition entries and similar). This form has several fields with places for name, address, phone numbers and emails, but you can really use the fields in any way you want. It will automatically assume that what's entered in the email field is your email if you for example attempt to log in using a wand into a site for which you actually have not saved a password, but normally it has an auto-fill function which means that when filling in a form you only need to type in the first letter of the word, and ANY fields from "Personals" that start with that letter will appear. It's flexible and really easy to use.
6) It has a fantastic feature called "Notes". This opens in a separate tab and allows you to type in whatever you want (text only). It gets saved automatically. But Opera also has "copy to Notes" function in its Edit menu, meaning that if you want a piece of text from anything you are reading saved for later, you can just copy it to notes instead of copying to clipboard, pasting somewhere else and saving the file. This is one keystroke or one right-click operation and anything copied to Notes stays there unless you delete it.
Even better, anything from Notes can be inserted in any Web form, either using a right-click menu of the mouse; a list of all Personals and Notes appears also when you press the scroll-down key while in a web-form field. This is really good for any longer (or shorter) text that you want to use regularly but perhaps not as often as Personals.
My Notes are filled with stock phrases and standard lines for my articles, I have most of my customer numbers for web shops I use there, quite a few telephone numbers and addresses too; as well as a number of paragraphs from on-line materials that I found worth preserving.
7) You can really easily customise all toolbars. You can add links to the toolbars by just dragging the tabs onto them, you can format them to display just the icon, icon and text or just text, you can use all toolbars, not just one designated Bookmarks bar, and everything that you place on the toolbars gets saved in Bookmarks, but when you delete it from the toolbar it doesn't get automatically deleted from the Bookmarks. I even have a toolbar with my most frequently used icons that pops out when I click on the address filed in the address bar - very quick and handy.
8) Any changes of preferences or settings are easily done, easy to locate in a very intuitive way and easy to control and customise.
There is lots more to Opera than that, including a nifty embedded email system which I don't use but used to) as well as multiple widgets (which I have not used so far either, but have heard good things about). The above were just my specific favourite points.
However, Opera has also (as most good things) noticeable disadvantages
1) The biggest (and to be honest, the only serious one for me) is that as Opera is a distinctly minority pursuit, many websites don't work in it or work in a limited way. It's not Opera's fault, but it means that I still use Firefox as frequently as Opera (in fact I normally have both up and running at the same time).
The major sites that I use very frequently that don't work in Opera or don't operate fully include:
Google Mail - real disaster here as I use it all the time.
Some aspects of eBay including many of their drop-down menus, some sort functions, PayPal payments (the PayPal site works grand, so it's eBay's glitch) and the embedded photo upload function.
Some minor aspects of Amazon.
Tesco.com (which doesn't work very well in Firefox either and thus is the only reason I ever open IE).
2) The way the Bookmark management screen works is long-winded and - surprisingly for Opera - not very intuitive
3) Some versions used to crash every so often. Te one I have now (9.64) doesn't, but you never know for the future.
I wouldn't be without my Opera. It's fast, intuitive and has functions (without a need for any special add-ons) that make my life on-line significantly easier. I wish all sites I use regularly supported it (take notice, Google!).
I use Opera for most of my browsing but find it doesn't like Ciao either (it's fine with dooyoo), and I can't use it for internet banking websites - I've started using it again to play Lexulous in Facebook but Facebook doesn't work that well on my computer in IE either.