Opera BrowserWell, Opera 8 is out, and their website is swamped so badly they replaced their home page with a stripped-down version pointing to download sites. That’s a first.

Unfortunately I can’t get the Linux download link to get me anywhere except back to the splash page, so I’ve only managed to grab the Windows version so far.

I used to be a big fan of Opera back in the days when Mozilla was still in beta, Netscape was obsolete, and IE was… well, a security hole waiting to happen and the dominant browser as a result of monopoly abuse instead of just making a better product. But then two things happened: Mozilla got a lot better, and Opera started to get bloated. And by bloated I don’t mean in code size, I mean in user interface. It was so cluttered that after a while it was just a pain to use.

I still buy new versions as needed (The reg code for 7.x seems to work fine on 8.0. Whoops—I installed over the beta and it showed as still registered. I entered the reg code for the wrong version—the code for 7.x does work on 8.0), and I’ve got active licenses on both Windows and Linux. But in the last few years I’ve mainly used it for testing (compatibility, small-screen rendering, etc.) and for keeping multiple accounts logged into the same website.

The 8.0 betas have been very nice, though. With all the extra toolbars hidden, I can just use the web. This is one of their selling points: their press release is titled “Speed, Security and Simplicity,” and states “The default UI design is cleaner, more intuitive and allows for easy navigation.”

I don’t think it’ll get me to switch from Firefox just yet, but I may find myself using it more often. And while it’s nice that I don’t have to pay for the upgrade, I wouldn’t mind it if I did. And I certainly don’t mind paying for the upgrade. And while it’s nice that I don’t have to pay for the upgrade, I wouldn’t mind it if I did.