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					FireFox vs. Opera

        Team 2
     Carrie Ewing
    Lindsay Miller
   Caner Cankaya
    David Stewart
   Prisilia Paramita

    Tracy Clark
    English 420S
Executive Summary

This report explains and assesses two web browsers Firefox and Opera. Firefox is an
open source web browser while Opera is a proprietary web browser. The comparison of
the two web browsers will be based on:

      Appearance of web page
      How user friendly the browser is
      Options available to customize or improve the browser with extensions
      Default features of each browser
      Compatibility with various operating systems
      Availability of tech support
      Required memory space

In addition to this comparison the article will also help readers determine which browser
option would be best suited for their needs based on the needs of the user and attributes
listed above.


This paper will compare and contrast two internet browsers: Firefox and Opera. This
comparison will assess and explain the attributes that each browser has to offer, as well as
compare and contrast specific capabilities of the browsers. This paper will

      Help readers understand the difference between proprietary and open source
       Inform readers of the capabilities and options for each browser
      Assist readers in understanding which browser might be a better fit for their
       internet needs.

Open source software is software in which the source codes used to write the software are
available to the public. This means that anyone can see the source codes and change and
adapt the codes to fit their own personal needs and then redistribute the adapted code for
other people to use or change (OSDDP). It is a common misconception that open source
software is “free software.” This is not the case. Open source software can be adapted
and then packaged and sold as a value-added product. The “free” concept comes from
the fact that anyone can have access to the code and adapt it as they see fit (OSSDP).

Firefox is a free, open source web browser. It is a product of the Mozilla Corporation.
This is a company that helps to integrate the development of internet-related applications
(Wikipedia). Firefox is continually being improved upon by hundreds of volunteers and
has become increasingly popular in a short amount of time. To date, Firefox has been
downloaded 200 million times since its release on November 9, 2004 (Wikipedia).
Firefox has many conveniences to offer users, and these will be discussed in detail in this
In contrast, proprietary software is software in which the source codes are not available to
the public. Only the software designers of the parent company have access to the codes.
In addition, there are laws that prohibit the copying and use of the software. Proprietary
software is the first kind of software that was available. In the context of browsers, most
people are probably familiar with the Internet Explorer browser which is owned by

Opera is a proprietary web browser owned by Opera Software, a Norwegian company
(Wikipedia). The first version of Opera available to the public was Opera version 2.0.
This version was released to the public in 1996. While Opera is a lesser known browser,
controlling only 1.0% of the market share, it has many things to offer users.

FireFox’s Advantages and Disadvantages

Firefox being the most popular open source internet browser is open to critiques and
assessments from all internet users. By taking all these lists into consideration we can
look to see which are the most noteworthy and mentioned. When you first download and
install Firefox your getting a basic internet browser, there isn‟t a lot of special features.
It‟s very clean looking, and not cluttered with features and buttons. For the majority of
the users this is all they need to casually browse the internet. Firefox is very user friendly
at this basic stage since there is only a few buttons to start out with and they are all ones
people are familiar with from other browsers.

The only big feature that people might not be familiar with is tabbed browsing, however
it is very intuitive. Basically instead of having multiple windows open with browsers like
internet explorer, all the windows are combined into one window and you can choose
which window you are viewing by clicking on a tab that represents the website. This is a
good way to remove the clutter of multiple windows, and also if you want to have
multiple windows open to look at 2 pages at the same time, that is an option that is
always available.

The basic Firefox system isn‟t what you‟re stuck with if you wanted more. There are
countless add-ons created by various internet users you can add to your Firefox browser
to get the desired features you wanted, because odds are if you wanted Firefox to have an
ability it didn‟t already have someone else wanted it too and made an add-on that could
perform it. This is one of the benefits of having an open source program; it‟s constantly
evolving to suit your needs.

Anyone who has searched the web knows how annoying pop-ups can be and how hinder
some and Firefox has a great popup blocker to help make the web browsing experience as
smooth as possible. As far as compatibility this browser doesn‟t have any significant
problems, all the minor ones will be listed later and since this is the number 2 browser it
wouldn‟t make sense for it to have compatibility issues.
Firefox has promising features but it isn‟t without its downfalls. Most of the
disadvantages people point out are more complaints and bugs that need to be fixed than
they are major disadvantages. However a few stand out as problems that pose a lasting
threat. One of those primarily is the very reason it‟s open source; the add-ons and
extensions. Since the browser does start out with only the most basic features you have
to add extensions if you want to add additional functionality. Although this allows you to
customize your browser to suit your needs, if you add too many features it has the
potential to cause the browser to malfunction and performance and speed issues can start
to occur. It also is an annoyance to have to download an extension for everything your
browser has trouble with, like flash, java, or streaming videos. Without those add-ons
some normal web pages can be unreadable. Having to add all these extensions to the
Firefox program can be to difficult for what the average of user had in mind.

Another disadvantage is the amount of computer resources that Firefox takes up. This
becomes apparent when you try to multi task on your computer, also if you open to many
tabs in the Firefox program itself it will become slow and choppy. If your computer is
not as up to date as most, this may be more than just an annoyance with waiting for
programs to load, you will avoid using the program altogether. Along with Firefox being
memory intensive it also has a slow initial loading time, it can take from 10-15 seconds in
old computers. This is said to be because it can‟t load along with the operating system
with program like internet explorer, however browsers like Opera have no problem with
fast loading times.

Along with the major issues facing Firefox are minor complaints that users have. One of
the more common ones is Firefox‟s download manager. The download manager is as
basic as it gets. It allows for no customization, and the extensions for it are moderate at
best. Worst of all is as it comes download manager can‟t resume downloads, so if your
computer freezes or locks up you have to start the download over again. Along with the
download manager there has been trouble with bookmarks being erased or lost. However
now there are ways in place to recover these bookmarks if this were to happen to you.

For the most part all of these minor glitches and complaints are fixed with add-on‟s and
extensions that are available since this program is open source. A new version of Firefox
is scheduled to be released soon and hopefully this version will help deal with the
memory intensive nature of the program.

Opera’s Advantages and Disadvantages

Being a closed source browser has its own advantage and disadvantage for Opera. Opera
software, which based in Norway, focuses not only in regular desktop browser, but also
in the mobile browser market. Their mobile browser, Opera Mini launched globally on
the fourth quarter of 2005. It has been used by different mobile phone creators, such as
Nokia, Motorola, Sharp and Sony-Ericsson. It will also be featured in the newest video
game system, Nintendo Wii. “Opera for Wii boasts the same complete standards support
as the Opera 9 Desktop browser, and includes the added functionality of "Zoom" and
"Bookmarks"” (Opera-1).
Opera Mini is available in various languages and is distributed free for end users and
distributors. It also offers function customization that is distributed by its own customers.
Opera Mini is very powerful nowadays. “Opera Mobile and Platform are foundations for
the next generation of mobile services enabling easy, fast and cost- effective creation of
web based mobile applications” (Opera-2).
Aside from being dominant in mobile browser market, Opera is the first browser that
introduces tabbed browsing windows. Although Firefox nowadays also has the tabbed
browsing windows, it was originally adapted from Opera. Having those tabs could be
very useful sometimes. It saves you spaces in the taskbar in case a lot of different
programs are running in your desktop.

One advantage from Opera is the BitTorrent support. Using Opera browser, you don‟t
need to install a third-party BitTorrent client. Whenever you want to download a torrent
files, the browser will simply pop up a small dialog box asking where to save the file and
after that the transfer will appear in the regular transfers‟ page. “With BitTorrent, Opera
hopes to make it easier for users to download the large amount of legal material available,
such as Linux software and computer game demos. The Opera browser will also be
offered for download as a torrent file” (Opera-3).

Opera also has unique features, such as mouse gestures and also Paste-and-Go. “A mouse
gesture is a way of combining computer mouse movements and clicks which the software
recognizes as a specific command” (Wikipedia). “Opera's amazing mouse gestures lets
you do frequently performed browse operations with small, quick mouse movements”
(Opera-4). The Opera website gives you access to the how-to-do lists of mouse gestures
available for first time users. Another unique feature is the Opera Paste-and-Go. It is a
very simple, but handy tool. “When you copy a URL from for instance a PDF or Word
document, you would normally open a page in Opera, paste the URL in the addressfield
and press ENTER. However, that can be much easier with paste-and-go: just press
CTRL-D and Opera uses the text in the clipboard as URL” (Opera Tutorial). Using
several extensions, Firefox also has the Paste-and-Go feature, but it is not default. The
good thing about Opera is that they make all useful features to be default, so people don‟t
have to search for more extensions.

Comparing the memory usage of Firefox 2 and Opera 9 could be done in 2 ways. If we
compare the memory “with no pages loaded, and with no bookmarks, and otherwise with
default download settings, “(ExtremeTech) Opera uses more memory than Firefox. Even
if you compare it with Internet Explorer, Opera still uses more memory. On the other
hand, if we compare it with a bunch of tabs loaded using the same group of tabbed pages;
Opera uses less memory than Firefox. Opera uses the same amount of memory no matter
how many tabs are opened. As for the faster startup, Opera is twice faster than Firefox.
Browsers are very important for web designers. The layout produced by each browser is
different one to another, especially when doing graphics. In a test performed by some
web designers, it is shown that Opera will produce more similar image compared with
Firefox (ExtremeTech).
While Firefox has some extensions, Opera has widgets. “Widgets are fun Web programs
you can run right on your desktop using Opera 9” (Opera-5). Opera provides a website
full of different widgets that can be downloaded for Opera browser. Some of the most
popular widgets are simAquarium which is an aquarium simulation game and also
weather widget which displays the current weather condition and the current temperature.
If you like to play games, there are some more widgets for you to play other than
simAquarium. It also has Circular Tetris and WidgetTetra. If you want to be kept updated
with news, it has BBC News Reader and MLB News. If you like sports, you can
download Champions-League and also Cricket News Tic. There are different things for
different people. Opera tries to accommodate it as much as it could.

Aside from widgets, Opera has Thumbnail Preview that will allow the user to easily see
what the tab is. This is a very great feature. Users do not need to open the tab one by one
just to see what inside it. Firefox has an extension to do this which called Viamatic
foXpose. People find it really helpful, but some people find it really slow and
cumbersome (Mozilla-1).

The next advantage that Opera has over Firefox is Session. It lets the users to keep all the
session and tabs. If the user has 4 tabs opened and they accidentally close it, user can just
open it again and those 4 tabs will still be there. Firefox also has an extension for this
called SessionSaver. Again, some people find it very handy, but some people also have
critics on Firefox‟s extensions (Mozilla-2).


As it has been discussed, both Firefox and Opera browsers have their advantages and
disadvantages which attract different types of users. In either case though, both of the
browsers have their own loyal fan base and are gaining market share against the dominant
Internet Explorer which is forcing Microsoft Corp. to implement some of the most
commonly used features in both of the browsers in their upcoming release of Internet
Explorer 7.

A common issue that both of them have been working on resolving is the compatibility of
web pages and Java applications which poses as the main deterrent for some users. It is
already extremely difficult to convince some people to make the switch to either of the
newly developed browsers since they have been so used to Internet Explorer for the past
20 years, the fact that it is integrated to 99% of the users‟ operating system and it is the
default browser for most sites design structure.

While both Opera and Firefox have their own share of problems, the biggest reason for
the switch is the issue of security. In today‟s world, where security counts just as much as
anything else, if not as the most important issue, the security vulnerabilities of internet
explorer are forcing people to make the switch. Making the switch is not only in the
basic home user level but also in the corporate level. Companies are choosing the new
developed browsers both to secure their assets and their convenience packed features.
 In the home user level customization plays the biggest role after security. People
appreciate the fact that they can make their browsers look like what they want, instead of
what the programmers forced them to like in the past.

They can also use their own „widgets‟ in Opera or „extensions‟ in Firefox to customize
how they want the browser to perform their most used functions. While these browsers
make life easier for most of their users, there isn‟t a certain answer to which one of these
browsers are better since the answer depends on the personal preferences. One thing that
is certain is that in a perfect world the company that develops the most secure, user
friendly, customizable browser with the least amount of problems and the best tech
support will win the browser wars until then it will be a continuous improvement and
challenge for both of them.

Krasnoff, Barbara. "IE vs. Everyone Else". Internetweek. 2006 (9 February 2006)

Muchmore, Michale W. "Which New Browser Is Best: Firefox 2, Internet Explorer 7, or
     Opera 9?". ExtremeTech. 2006 (19 July 2006)

Yeow, Cheah Chu. “You Don‟t Know Jack About Firefox” Sitepoint. July 26th 2005

Shreyas “Disadvantages of How to Improve Firefox” Chrono Tron. 22 May 2006.

"Opera Vs. IE Vs. Firefox - Browser Comparison."
       3 Oct 2006>.

Langford, William. Firefox 1.5 vs. Opera 9. 22 June 2006.
      13 Oct 2006 <>.

Rapoza, Jim. "IE more secure than FireFox?" 02 Oct. 2006.

Rapoza, Jim. “Opera 9 takes early offensive stance.” 03 July 2006.

Carrol, John. "Open Source vs. Proprietary: Both Have Advantages." ZD Net. 24 May 2004.
         vantages/0,130061733,139148762,00.htm> (10 Oct. 2006).

Marconcini, Martín. “ One Week with Firefox, its extensions and Opera.” OS News.
      7 Jan. 2004. <
      its-Extensions-and-Opera/page1/> (5 Oct. 2006).

Opera for Nintendo Wii (Opera-1)

Opera Mini (Opera-2)
Opera BitTorrent (Opera-3)

Opera Mouse Gestures (Opera-4)


Opera Tutorial


Opera Widgets

Viamatic foXpose (Mozilla-1)

Session Saver (Mozilla-2)