Future of Opera browser for the Mac in question

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Update: CNET's article now includes a response from Apple regarding Opera Software's position. We have included that info below.

Opera Software has expressed "significant doubts" it will continue producing a Web browser for the Mac now that Apple has released its own browser, Safari, according to a CNET article.

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Today Opera Software released Opera 7 for Windows. A Mac version was planned, but now there's doubt whether one will be released at all. "I'm not a quitter, and our company isn't a quitter, but it really is up to Apple," Jon von Tetzchner, Opera's CEO, told CNET. "The Mac platform may not be viable for us any longer."

The article says that Tetzchner had asked Apple whether it would be willing to license Opera either to replace KHTML, or to supplement the current Safari version.

The latest version of Opera for the Mac is version 6.0, which was released in December. Designed for Mac OS 8.6 or higher, Opera 6 for Mac sports improved page rendering speed than its predecessor, better font switching for international Web pages, some user interface fixes, a new autosave pages feature, and a shared library for developers. It's available both as a free ad-sponsored version or in registered form for US$29.

Safari is Apple's own implementation of a standards-compliant Web browser. Built around KHTML and KJS software from the KDE open source project, Safari opens faster, renders Web pages quicker and runs JavaScript faster than Microsoft Internet Explorer, according to Apple. Released concurrently with Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco earlier this month, Safari has already garnered more than one million downloads from Apple's Web site, even though it's still a public beta. Apple plans to release the finished version of Safari later in 2003.

"We have contacted Apple and asked them if they want a third-party browser, and we'll see what the answer is," Tetzchner said. "They could say we want to use Opera as the core engine. If they want KHTML as a simple little browser, and also something more advanced, we would be happy to provide it. Obviously, if we don't get any positive signs from Apple, then we have to think about it."

Opera Software's strategy has gotten Apple's attention, however: After CNET posted its original article, Apple offered a response. "We think Safari is one of the best and most innovative browsers in the world, and it seems our customers do too," Apple told CNET. "No one is making Mac users choose Safari over Opera -- they're doing it of their own free will -- and Opera's trashing of Safari sounds like sour grapes to us."

This story, "Future of Opera browser for the Mac in question" was originally published by PCWorld.

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