Opera delivers Unite beta, touts in-browser P2P

Again, it says browser-based collaboration platform will reinvent the Web

Opera Software today released the beta of Opera Unite, a platform for authoring peer-to-peer (P2P) and Web server-based applications that it's promised will reinvent the Web.

In June, Opera touted Unite as a collaborative technology that would "enable every single computer to be a two-way street on the Internet." Four months ago, Opera delivered an alpha version of Unite with a preliminary edition of Opera 10, its next-generation browser. Opera 10 launched in final form more than a month ago.

Today, Opera delivered the Unite beta embedded in the preview of Opera 10.10.

It's not given up on the idea that Unite will dramatically change the Internet. "We invite developers all over the world to use their creativity and imagination to push the boundaries of what is possible with Opera Unite," Jon von Tetzchner, Opera's CEO, said in a statement Wednesday. "We are moving closer to our goal of reinventing the Web."

Opera's pitching Unite to developers, who it hopes will come up with new applications and Web-based services for sharing, collaboration and social networking. The beta of Unite includes a half-dozen Opera-made services that include file sharing, a media player, photo sharing, a Facebook-style "wall" dubbed "Fridge" where users can leave notes and a Web server.

That last turns any Unite-equipped computer into a server, letting users host an already-created Web site via a special URL that Opera assigns.

So far, Opera has had little luck in convincing developers to commit time and resources to crafting Unite applications and services. Of the 21 Unite applications now available , 10 come from Opera itself. The most popular third-party Unite application is a music-streaming service, which has been downloaded approximately 12,000 times.

Some security experts, however, have questioned Unite's security and wondered whether it was smart to put a Web server on every desktop. "Bad guys always need Web servers," SecureWorks research Don Jackson told IDG News last June . "Anything that runs a Web server is prone to attack."

Although Opera 10 is needed to run Unite and its peer-to-peer (P2P) and server-style services, any browser can access the shared content.

Although Opera has led development of some browser features -- it was the first major Web browser to institute tabs, for instance -- the program's share of the desktop market has remained small. According to the most recent data from Web metrics company Net Applications, Opera accounted for just 2.2 per cent of all browsers used last month. Google's Chrome, which has been available for just over a year and only on Windows, held a 3.2 per cent share in September.

The company has received more attention lately as the instigator of the complaint against Microsoft that led European Union (EU) antitrust regulators to charge the U.S. firm with illegally bundling its Internet Explorer with Windows. That case appeared to near a resolution last week when the EU said it had asked for and obtained changes to Microsoft's proposed "ballot screen," which will let European users of Windows to choose which browser they install on their PCs.

Opera Unite is available with Opera 10.10, which can be downloaded for Windows, Mac and Linux from the Opera site.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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