Web Apps

Vivaldi Flaunts Its Plus-Size Browser Attributes

Vivaldi on Wednesday launched the first release of its eponymously named browser. Vivaldi is the brainchild of CEO Jon von Tetzchner, a cofounder ofOpera Software.

Aimed at the power user, Vivaldi 1.0 packs in features that were stripped out of Opera 12.

However, “Vivaldi is not about a single feature,” von Tetzchner said. “Vivaldi is more about a philosophy.”

While other mainstream browsers are stripping down their feature sets and focusing on simplicity at the expense of flexibility, “we go in the other direction and add features and options,” he told TechNewsWorld.

The browser is available now in 32-bit versions for Windows, OS X 7+ and Linux. It’s also offered in 64-bit versions for Linux, and an experimental 64-bit version is available for Windows.

Under the Hood

The browser’sfeatures are divided into six categories: Faster Navigation, Smarter Browsing, Tab Management, Bookmarks, Shortcuts and Visual.

Faster Navigation features include Speed Dial, which offers quick links to users’ favorite sites in every new tab; Quick Commands, which are simple text commands that let users control everything in the browser; and Fast Forward, which lets users jump to the next page in a sequence.

Smarter Browsing features include the ability to take notes while browsing and link them to a specific site; the ability to view any site in a side panel; fast access to bookmarks, downloads and notes; and a Custom Search Engine.

Tab Management features include Sessions, which lets users save a set of open tabs and open them at any time, and visual previews of open tabs. Other features include the ability to save tabs as a stack, which is “great for those with large, high-resolution screens,” von Tetzchner said, and Tab Stack Tiling.

For Bookmarks, there’s a bookmarks bar and the ability to assign a nickname to a bookmark for faster access. Shortcuts include mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts. Visual features include Web page zoom and user interface scaling.

The Vivaldi browser is based on the Chromium code, which offers updates roughly every six weeks, and “we will do the same,” von Tetzchner said.

Mobility and Security

Only a desktop version of the browser is being offered now.

“Mobile is in the plans,” von Tetzchner said. “Android is a target, but we will evaluate iOS as we move forward.”

Security “is a basic part of the browser,” he added. Many of its security aspects come from the Chromium engine it’s based on.

Do Not Track also is part of the browser “in many ways as well,” he said.

Still, the browser “is a 1.0 product suitable for folks who are willing to take some risk,” observed Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“I expect the 2.0 version will be far more mature and acceptable to more users,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Built for Power Users

“This is a browser that simplifies the experience and increases the speed for those willing to take the time to customize it,” Enderle said.

Its organizational tools for users who move between a lot of sites regularly, its speed and the mouse gestures make it “a tool developed for power users on the Web,” he noted.

The browser lacks ad blocking, but “I don’t think ad blockers are critical to adoption,” Enderle said.

On the other hand, power users “absolutely need strong capabilities, superfast performance and ways to deal with ads,” said Al Hilwa, a research director at IDC Seattle.

Vivaldi will leave it up to third parties to provide extensions that block ads, von Tetzchner said.

Why Another Browser?

“It’s challenging to launch a browser because they’re all free,” Hilwa told TechNewsWorld.

Granted, Vivaldi has had a million downloads, but “if you sell a browser separately from a platform like Windows or Mac OS, you have to have a specific business model and value proposition,” he said.

“Is this for the enterprise?” Hilwa asked. “For the consumer?”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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