Miscellaneous Ramblings

Opera 10.62 for Mac: Fast, but Some Bugs Remain

Charles Moore - 2010.09.21 - Tip Jar

Before you read this article, keep in mind that most of these issues have been resolved. See Opera Issues Resolved, at Least for Intel Macs for the details.

I can't really pick a hands-down favorite among the four big Mac OS X browsers - Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera* - although I suppose it says something that I'm inclined to use Opera the most and Safari the least.

Opera's speed combined with some small but very convenient features, such as the pulldown zoom slider menu that works in real time, keep me coming back to Opera. However, my happy relationship with the Norwegian browser has been a bit strained over the past six months or so.

On my Intel MacBook, more Opera builds than not since about version 10.60 have obstinately refused to start up with either my OS X 10.5 Leopard or 10.6 Snow Leopard production systems, so for several months while 10.61 and 10.62 betas and finals rolled out, I've been stuck using a version 10.60 beta build that does work.

It's some sort of software conflict, because I checked out version 10.62 on a fresh new OS X 10.5 user account I created for testing purposes, and it works fine there, but it resolutely "quits unexpectedly" on startup in my working account. I've tried removing every Opera related item I can find from my Preferences Folder, but no joy.

Presumably, a clean system install would cure it, but with nothing else noticeably glitching up, I'm not inclined to invest the considerable amount of time that would take, so I keep persevering with the latest build that will run and hoping a newer one will not manifest the issue.

Opera 10.6 and Tiger

On my old G4 Pismos running OS X 10.4 Tiger, all the incremental Opera builds since 10.60 (and before) have started up fine, but they have been so unstable that they've been essentially unusable. Text entry on web pages and form fields was excruciatingly slow, when it didn't send the browser into terminal spinning beach ball mode, and stability was poor in general.

Consequently, I was delighted to note in the release notes for the Version 10.62 final (when it was released last week) that bugs like "Not being able to click or select links or text" and especially "Entering text being very slow on OS X 10.4 Tiger" had been addressed in this version.

I wasted no time downloading the browser and trying it out. The good news is that it is now usable with OS X 10.4 - and it's even faster than before (Fairer Platform reports that Opera 10.62 has increased its HTML5 compatibility score to 203 from the previous 159), plus text entry is indeed improved. However, it's still prone to beach ball lapses and can hardly be described as stable, although I've not yet experienced a complete crash or lockup that didn't resolve itself.

This leaves me conflicted over whether to revert to the rock solid stability of version 10.61 or to continue enjoying the speed of version 10.62 and just proceed in a gingerly and gentle fashion so as not to upset the browser's delicate equilibrium.

So far I've opted for the latter.

I am grateful that Opera is the last of the major browsers to continue supporting OS X 10.4 with the latest version, now that Firefox has terminated Tiger support at Version 3.6 and Safari users are relegated to second-class version 4.1.2, while Chrome has never supported Power PC.

iCab still supports Tiger with its contemporary version 4.8; Sea Monkey with version 2.0.8 and Camino 2.0.4 are continuing Tiger support for now, but since they are both based on the Mozilla Gecko browser engine and Mozilla has dumped Tiger support for post-3.6 Firefox, it's questionable for how long.

I expect that good ol' iCab will hang in with Tiger for a while yet ( they still offer a 68k classic Mac OS browser with development frozen some years ago), but rumor has it that Safari 4.x will be the last of the Mohicans for Apple's Tiger browsers, so I'm hoping that Opera will continue to get the bugs out of version 10.62.

* Looking at Low End Mac logs for the past month, Safari is the top Mac browser at 33.24%, followed by Firefox at 13.84%, Chrome at 4.11%, Camino at 0.74%, Opera at 0.36%, and old versions of Internet Explorer for Mac at 0.17%. Opera is more popular than Safari on Windows, where IE dominates at 16.98%, followed closely by Firefox at 14.25%. Chrome for Windows holds third place at 6.84%, Opera is #4 at 0.88%, and Safari accounts for 0.84%. Because Firefox is popular on both platforms while IE is seldom used on Macs and Safari rarely used on Windows, it blows past IE for total share at 29.71%. Safari, Firefox, IE, and Chrome are the only browsers above the 10% mark.

Appendix

New in Opera 10.62:

User interface

Fixed

  • Selection jumps while backspacing in a rich text editor

Opera closing when searching on hotels.com

  • Not being able to click or select links or text

Opera freezing when leaving a canvas, audio, or JavaScript game

  • A missing plugin dialog might cause Opera to close
  • Bodyless documents causing Opera to close in accessibility mode
  • Entering text being very slow on OS X 10.4 Tiger
  • Enabling on demand plugins as the default for Mac 10.4 and PPC
  • Loading of streaming plugins in Opera Turbo
  • Typing slowing down when there are many bookmarks

Display and scripting

Added

  • 9 More MIME file types and suffixes for compressed tar files

Fixed

  • Fallback not displaying for Java types when plugins are disabled
  • Items disappearing from the cache

Mail, news, chat

Added

  • FastMail domains and hotmail.co.uk to the email auto-configuration

Fixed

  • Missing images in feed preview (media RSS)

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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