Opera began in 1994 as a research project at Telenor, the largest Norwegian telecommunications company. In 1995, it branched out into a separate company named Opera Software ASA. Opera was first released publicly with version 2.0 in 1996, which only ran on Microsoft Windows. In an attempt to capitalize on the emerging market for Internet-connected handheld devices, a project to port Opera to mobile device platforms was started in 1998. Opera 4.0, released in 2000, included a new cross-platform core that facilitated creation of editions of Opera for multiple operating systems and platforms.
Up to this point, Opera was trialware and had to be purchased after the trial period ended. Version 5.0 (released in 2000) saw the end of this requirement. Instead, Opera became ad-sponsored, displaying advertisements to users who had not paid for it. Later versions of Opera gave the user the choice of seeing banner ads or targeted text advertisements from Google. With version 8.5 (released in 2005) the advertisements were removed entirely and primary financial support for the browser came through revenue from Google (which is by contract Opera’s default search engine).
Among the new features introduced in version 9.1 (released in 2006) was fraud protection using technology from GeoTrust, a digital certificate provider, and PhishTank, an organization that tracks known phishing web sites. This feature was further improved and expanded in version 9.5, when GeoTrust was replaced with Netcraft, and malware protection from Haute Secure was added.
Also in 2006, Opera Software ASA released Internet Channel and Nintendo DS Browser for Nintendo’s DS and Wii gaming systems.
On 12 February 2013, Opera announced it would drop its own Presto engine in favour of WebKit as implemented by Google’s Chrome browser, using code from the Chromium project. Opera Software also planned to contribute code to WebKit. On 3 April 2013, Google announced that it would fork components from WebKit to form a new rendering engine known as Blink; the same day, Opera confirmed that it would follow Google in implementing Blink.
On 28 May 2013, a beta release of Opera 15 was made available, the first version based on the Chromium project. Many distinctive features of the previous versions were dropped, and Opera Mail was separated into a standalone application derived from Opera 12.
On 20 April 2016, Opera announced that free VPN is integrated in the developer’s browser to support the private network.
Download Opera Browser v38