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Opera Web browser free to UA


By Djamila Noelle Grossman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
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Students and members of the university can get the newest version of the Norwegian Opera Web browser for free today.

Because of its small size and security components, Opera is the safest and fastest browser available on the market, said Berit Hanson, public relations specialist at Opera software.

The new 8.0 version of Opera is a combination of everything the Norwegian company learned in the 10 years since it was founded, Hanson said.

The program is $39, but everyone affiliated with the university can get it for free.

"We want people to know that there are different browsers," Hanson said. "Opera is very different from Internet Explorer and it works very well for students."

Features include the ability to verify a Web site's owner and therefore avoid entering personal information into fake Web sites, Hanson said.

Mouse gestures such as maximizing or duplicating an open window without using the keyboard make the browser faster to work with, Hanson said, and it is easy to customize for certain needs.

Opera emphasizes organizational components and makes it easy for students to keep track of information from the Web. A fan community of 200,000 people who want to be involved with the company created numerous new shells for the browser, Hanson said.

"People are really passionate about Opera," Hanson said. "It's cool to be down with 'Microsoft is bad'"

Opera Software stated in a press release they would give out free registered browsers to universities, Hanson said, and considers it an "educational gift."

Michael Hirst, software-licensing administrator at the Center for Computing and Information Technology, said he contacted Opera Software in response to their press release about three months ago.

Hirst said he signed up for the program because there should be a choice for people to decide which system they want to use.

"The university has always believed in freedom of choice," Hirst said. "The program is free, but we can still offer a decent quality project."

Hirst said Internet Explorer, the most widely- used Internet browser at the university, has serious security issues and it is important to offer a more secure service.

"In my opinion, Internet Explorer is one of the worst browsers out there," Hirst said.

Students who want the Opera browser this week have to write an e-mail to Hirst at mhirst@email.arizona.edu to get a code and then download the program from the company's Web site, he said.

Next week, everyone interested has to send an e-mail to citelicense@arizona.edu to receive the code by e-mail and then download the program from the Opera software Web site, Hirst said.

Jon Winkeller, an aerospace and mechanical engineering junior, said he doesn't know if he would buy the browser, but he started to become more convinced after talking to the Opera team.

"I'm a Firefox user but I'll give it a try," Winkeller said. "I've used all browsers and I hate all of them."

Ilham Hobba, a molecular and cellular biology freshman, said she plans to buy a new computer and it is good to know her options.

She liked the increased security and the usability of the browser, Hobba said, but before downloading it she will talk to people who know more about computers.



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