I’ll be honest. When I heard that Opera Software planned to show off a new version of its web browser designed for Windows tablets, I was a bit skeptical. After all, the whole point of a Windows tablet is that it can run full desktop apps… like the Opera web browser. So why retool the user experience to be more like the Opera browser for iOS and Android tablets?
But I got a chance to check out the new browser last night, and it actually looks pretty decent. The problem with browsing the internet on Windows tablets is that Internet Explorer and other desktop browsers aren’t really optimized for touch controls. Sure, recent updates to IE and plugins for Firefox and Chrome make it easy to tap and drag web pages or pinch to zoom. But the overall UI is still clearly designed for mouse and keyboard input.
Opera’s new web browser has the same basic guts as its original desktop web browser. But the user interface has been designed entirely for touch input. There’s a nice large, finger-friendly toolbar at he top of the page. You can view live previews of currently open tabs. And scrolling and zoomin are smooth as butter.
Opera says the tablet version of its browser isn’t ready to release yet, but it should be available soon. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m actually starting to wonder why Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft don’t release updated web browser for Windows tablets taking advantage of the UI enhancements the companies have all made for mobile versions of their browsers.