Opera switching to Webkit engine in 2013, browser will be based on Chromium

By on February 13, 2013, 11:19 AM

After years struggling to capture a bigger share of the browser market Opera has announced it is dropping its own Presto rendering engine in favor of WebKit -- the same engine used by Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome. The move will happen gradually over the course of 2013 across desktop and mobile products.

The Norwegian firm says that it will show off a WebKit-based version of its Android browser at the Mobile World Congress show in less than two weeks. This and an upcoming desktop counterpart will be based on Chromium, Google's open source project that contains most, but not all, of the code used in Chrome.

Commenting on the decision, CTO Håkon Wium Lie said "The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need. It makes more sense to have our experts working with the open source communities to further improve WebKit and Chromium, rather than developing our own rendering engine further.” Opera will contribute to the WebKit and Chromium projects, and has already submitted a first set of patches to improve multi-column layout.

The moves also responds to the need of improving compatibility with mobile devices, where the company has usually been a strong contender but faces a growing threat as mobile content is widely designed for WebKit alone -- no doubt thanks to the prominence of Chrome and Safari on Android and iOS, respectively. The latter prohibits browsers based on engines other than the Apple-supplied version of Webkit.

With Opera throwing the towel on Presto, the market will be reduced to three major engines: WebKit, Microsoft's Trident, and Mozilla's Gecko. Mozilla developer Robert O'Callahan expressed disappointment with the decision, claiming it will make their job of promoting web standards harder.




User Comments: 13

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Rippleman Rippleman said:

I don't follow browser wars, but I am pretty sure Opera (and fans of Opera) have always said that their engine was faster and superior. If so good, why go quit?

captainawesome captainawesome said:

I do like Opera but the main problem with it was it's extension eco system. When chrome came around a few years ago, I switched to it full time

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't follow browser wars, but I am pretty sure Opera (and fans of Opera) have always said that their engine was faster and superior. If so good, why go quit?

Presto is garbage when compared to WebKit or Gecko. It's JS performance was pretty fast, but otherwise, the rendering engine fell short.

Opera, whoever, as a browser (both in functions and interface) is up there. Only thing dragging it behind other than its engine? Lack of addons.

tomkaten tomkaten said:

Wow, amazing news !

I'd love to see a Webkit Opera with all the features it offers right now built right into the browser. I would dump Google Chrome in a heartbeat.

IAMTHESTIG said:

There is no Chrome for older Android OS's though... which really sucks. I use Opera on my Motorola Droid 3 but it is unstable with every version they release. Something about the Droid 3 just doesn't play nicely with Opera. I hope the new Opera will work for the older Android 2.3.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I allowed myself to get a little sidetracked in the patch tuesday thread. But what I posted there fits pretty well here, so I'll just copy paste what I said:

I used IE 10 on Win 8 for a bit, it really seemed fine to me. I continued using Opera though, because I have used it for about 12 or 13 years now. However, in the last week I've reluctantly switched to Chrome. Opera has gotten slower for me, on 3 different operating systems (win 8, win 7, os x 10.7) since somewhere around Opera 10.5. I'm not sure how they show benchmarks for it improving on every major release because it certainly doesn't 'feel' faster.

This is great news to me, having been such a long time Opera user I was really disapointed in having to change, but Opera's performance on my aging systems is just too poor compared to Chrome.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

I'm an Opera fan. They just do things right. Small things, but they matter.

E.g. There is a 1px line across the top of the screen, where you can grab the browser to drag it to another monitor. Can't do this with Chrome!

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Using Chrome, Maxthon (Chrome engine), Rockmelt (Chrome engine), Opera and dropped Safari for Windows too slow. Opera okay. Nothing beats full Chrome but shockwave crashes too much. They need a 64-bit browser. IE forget about it! IE 2 and 3 much quicker but in the years since getting on the web wagon in 1995 things have change from the old BB, Prodigy, AOL DOS, AOL Windows and now the internet. Netscape was the norm back in the mid 90's, Firefox is not what is could be.

ypsylon said:

For now disabled updates for Opera. Never in a million years I will permit Google software on my PCs. Will update O manually as long as current engine is ON.

Using Opera since version 3 and switching to Web-Rootkit is worst news ever. I don't need widgets and add-ons. Basic version is the most efficient O. Of course it is good news for T******/Face**** Generation, they need useless plug-ins and extensions. I don't care if page load in 4 seconds or 6s, that stuff is for ******. I know that Opera is not perfect, but there is no such thing as perfect browser. All what matters is efficient work-flow and here Big Red O trounces all opposition.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

For now disabled updates for Opera. Never in a million years I will permit Google software on my PCs. Will update O manually as long as current engine is ON.
How is that allowing Google on your PC?

I'm with you on not allowing Google on my PC. However, I don't see this any different than programming with a specific language. Programming with a specific language does not allow the author of the language on your PC. It says Opera will be based on Web-Rootkit, not run by Google. I think you are counting your chickens before they hatches.

I'm honestly hoping for the best. If what you suggest does come to pass, I will stop using Opera as my browser.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Chrome is based on Webkit, not the other way around.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

....[ ].... I think you are counting your chickens before they hatches.

As a member of the, "metaphor police", I feel compelled to issue you a citation for, "improper and bass-ackwards usage of an old adage".

What I'm sure you meant to say is, "stop crying before you're hurt". Meh, I'll let it slide with a warning......but only this once.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

What I'm sure you meant to say is, "stop crying before you're hurt". Meh, I'll let it slide with a warning......but only this once.
How many warnings do you give out? I'm sure I will use them all up too quickly.

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