Google Service Drops Support for Opera

Bob Leggitt | Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Please read my original post below in conjunction with the Supported Browsers UPDATE from 11th July 2012.

Just a brief notice for any users of Google services (everyone, in other words), to say that Google has now stopped supporting the Opera browser within the Blogger (.blogspot) admin interface. Here’s the nag I’ve been presented with today (27th June 2012), on the newest, fully-updated version of Opera… “Your browser is no longer supported by Blogger. Some parts of Blogger will not work and you may experience problems. If you are having problems, try Google Chrome.”…

Error message in Blogger reporting that Opera is no longer supported

The nag, I should stress, can be cleared, but it re-appears with every move to a new screen, and/or every refresh. It’s unclear to me at this stage what the nature or extent of the ‘problems’ might be.

The reason I felt it important to pass on this news to non-Opera users is that I’m wondering if Google are going to stop at Opera? I get the sense that this could be the thin end of a wedge, and that Opera may not be the only browser which ends up getting the cold shoulder. I also wonder if Blogger will be the only Google service to experience this snub. The bad news is that I can’t see anything which would make Blogger an exception.

For those who don’t perhaps know much about the Opera browser, let me stress that we’re not talking here about some outdated piece of old rubbish no one any longer uses. It’s a fully current browser, which was released in its latest form less than two weeks ago, and which has a userbase of approaching 300 million. In no way is Opera an obsolete package. On that basis, it’s very difficult to see any reasonable justification for ‘unsupporting’ Opera. If there is anything approaching a valid reason, the last people I’d expect to give it to me would be Google, so for now I’m just going to have to make assumptions.

As you can probably sense, my fear is that this is little more than the latest step in Google’s quest to monopolise the Internet. They’re not exactly forcing Blogger users who currently run Opera to migrate to Chrome, but they are making Opera untenable, and suggesting Chrome in its place. Only Chrome – no alternative options are provided. Inevitably, quite a high proportion of Opera users will, in response to this, switch, as advised, to Chrome. In Google’s gargantuan terms the numbers may not be overwhelming, but the move sets a precedent. If Google can drop support for Opera on one of their services, then they can feasibly drop support for Firefox, or even Internet Explorer. In theory, there’s no reason why Google can’t progessively disengage the various rival browsers from a multitude of services, one small step at a time, until most people feel forced, if they want to continue using those Google services, to access them with Google Chrome.

I’m not saying it would be a simple or quick process, and I’m sure one or two giants of the Web would have something to say about it if the userbase for their browsers was steadily eroded by Google progressively making its services Chrome-only. But don’t be in any doubt. The power of Google is insurmountable. The more dependent we all become upon it, the more it controls us, and the less we can do to detach ourselves from it. If Google tells me I can’t use a perfectly good browser when I write this blog, then I can’t use it. I can either accept Google’s terms, or I can take a running jump. Accepting Google's terms is the lesser of the two evils, so that's what I'm doing.

But this may not just be about me and the way I blog. If Google decides you can’t properly use YouTube with Internet Explorer, then in theory, exactly the same dynamics apply. So what would you do? Cease using YouTube, or swap browsers? Does YouTube, and the Google empire as a whole, have the power to force us to use the browser Google wants us to use? Yes, I think it does. And that’s a very scary thought…

UPDATE (6th July 2012): An email I received from an Administrator at the Infranview Support Forum has added what I think is a nice touch for the conclusion of this rather downbeat piece. If you follow the link below, you'll see that Google Chrome doesn't appear to be winning the battle for supremacy in every corner of the Web - lol...

Infranview Forum Announcement