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New Opera Beta…Nice but Opera needs to consolidate code

Posted by jngold24 on October 22, 2008

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This week Opera released beta 2 of it’s popular browser for Windows Mobile. Beta 2 introduces support for widgets, small applications that run inside the browser, and has many performance improvements. However, what some may not know is that Opera has been working with HTC to customize the browser for many of the newer “Touch” devices. For those who follow XDA-Developers, these customized Opera versions can be installed on other Windows Mobile Pro devices. I personally have been running a customized version for quite some time now on my HTC Touch Cruise. When you compare some of the later customized Opera 9 versions to the latest “official betas” from Opera, you will see an overall more functional and feature laden application. Don’t get me wrong, the newest Beta from Opera is significantly faster than the version I am running on the Cruise but the custom version just seems a bit more polished and stable. One of the annoying bugs of Beta 2 is the fact that any text entry automatically defaults to the standard WM keyboard and not your selected input panel.

So, why has Opera decided to maintain two versions of the Opera browser? A forum member at XDA-Developers has offered his opinion about that very question:

This new Opera release is exactly as Opera have stated – a “PUBLIC” release, so it is NOT packaged, skinned or built as per the usual Opera builds we are used to – such as those incorporated in the roms or available from these forums. If one inspects the distribution, you will find a very different file structure, skin support, and directory paths, very unlike our usual Opera builds on the stock Diamond and other HTC devices.

This is because the Opera builds that we are all accustomed to (and subsequently patched together and distributed by Senior Members on these forums) have been customized by HTC working with Opera. In this manner there almost absolutely ARE the equivalent of TWO BRANCHES of Opera build. This how we get (and continue to use) a very specific branch of Opera9.5 on our devices – of which this Public beta is NOT one.

The build numbers (i.e. 1938; 2392; 2723) simply represent the versioning of the Binary development at Opera and are not related to the packaging, distribution and integration for particular vendors or devices which will be different again, though still utilizing those same build numbers.

When this is packaged for the Diamond – as our current builds are – it will be great on our devices. At the moment though, this is just a generic public release beta, so has not been customised by HTC to fit the scheme, theme, directory/file structure (and hence Manila integration) of our Diamonds.

Until then, you can of course install it separately, however please be aware that because it has not been packaged for the Diamond it will install neither binaries, nor libraries to the same location as the specific Diamond builds. Hence it will not be guaranteed to replace existing files in the rom, and may therefore conflict or leave two versions of Opera on the device.

Of course it is only my opinion that the above points are important – others may agree or disagree.

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