Opera Wants To Unite Web, Critics Argue For Boycott

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Opera has integrated a web server into its browser but Windows fans are calling on computer users to shun the Norwegian company

Norwegian internet specialist Opera has announced what it claims is a browser integrated with a web server which the company says will allow users to more easily share information across multiple PCs and share files with friends and colleagues.

But while Opera is hoping to make a big splash with its latest announcement, critics have been calling for a ban of the browser amid the European Microsoft anti-trust trial.

In a webcast on Tuesday, Opera unveiled what it is calling Opera Unite which it says basically turns any computer into both a client and a server by integrating web serving elements directly into browser sessions. The technology will be integrated into the next version of Opera’s browser Opera 10 which the company said will be released “as soon as possible”.

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Opera chief executive Jon von Tetzchner (pictured) said that technology moves in distinct cycles and where PCs decentralised computing away from large mainframes, Opera Unite will effectively decentralise cloud computing. “Every single computer can be a two way street on the internet. It is a major breakthrough and warrants the name Web 5.0 – but we call it Opera Unite,” he said.

However, some of the glean was taken off of Opera’s launch with comments posted on a US-blog claiming that users should boycott the company’s software as a result of the lawsuit leveled against Microsoft by EU authorities.

David Taraso, managing editor at the Windows enthusiast Website JCXP.net, in a 12 June blog post called for a boycott of Opera and its software. Taraso maintained that Microsoft should be able to include whatever it wants in its own operating system and that the EU claim against the company is unreasonable. “That’s right, they’re being sued for including their own browser in their own operating system,” said Taraso of Microsoft in the EU case.

Opera’s chief development officer, Christen Krogh, demonstrated the new software which enables users to share music and photos by publishing them via web server built into the their browser.

As well as showing-off how music and photos could be shared, Krogh also demo’d an application called The Fridge – basically an online bulletin board which Opera says is similar to the sticky notes that people pin to their home freezer.

“I don’t know about your fridge but mine is covered in yellow notes, work appointments, what I should buy for dinner,” he said. “Someone else can go to my URL and add a note – in essence it’s like a bulletin board but we have made a fridge out of it.”

Opera said that it wants developers to take advantage of the Unite platform and create services which the community of users can take advantage of to share information and collaborate online.

The latest EC case against Microsoft was initiated by a compliant made by Opera in December 2007.

The EC responded to the compliant by issuing a statement of objection in January this year in which it voiced concern over Microsoft’s strategy around Windows and IE and gave the company 8 weeks to respond. “The evidence gathered during the investigation leads the Commission to believe that the tying of Internet Explorer with Windows, which makes Internet Explorer available on 90 percent of the world’s PCs, distorts competition on the merits between competing web browsers insofar as it provides Internet Explorer with an artificial distribution advantage which other web browsers are unable to match,” the EC said in a statement.