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.

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2 replies on “Opera Software unveils web browser for Windows tablets”

  1. Yes the rest don’t update their browsers because it isn’t needed!!!!!! Only a lame duck couldn’t use them finger only…. what are you talking about????

  2. “Internet Explorer and other desktop browsers aren’t really optimized for touch controls.”

    You’re kind of lying. In my restaurant we use 5 Viliv x70 tablets. I like Chrome on my desktop, but it’s not good on this tablet. My son, an IT student, explained to me that Windows 7 has more touch/tablet hooks in its API than any other operating system. Chrome and Opera apparently have been programmed to take advantage of the least of these, and Firefox and IE8 have been built to use more of them. For example, in Chrome and Opera the on-screen keyboard doesn’t even pop up when you select a text box in a form on a web page, but in Firefox and IE8 it pops up right away and disappears when you’re done. I don’t like IE8 but on the Viliv it’s actually better because you have more touch controls for browser functions and speech recognition can be used for controlling the browser and of for controlling the browsing. I think that a very touch-centric browser will be a very good thing, but if it’s not taking advantage of the features that Microsoft has made available to its developers in the API, then it’s probably not going to be as nice.

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