Previously you had two options with the Opera browser. You could download and ad-supported version for free or pay $39 for an ad-free version. The free version would show ad banners within the browser. But one could obtain Firefox for free without any ads. The pressure from competition with Firefox has apparently led Opera to now provide an ad-free version at no cost.
Of course, the company needs to generate revenue by some means in order to survive. Opera expects to generate sufficient revenue to continue developing their browser through revenue-sharing agreements with other sites, primarily Google, by directing traffic through Opera's built-in web search box.
Opera, of couse, is also in competition with Internet Explorer (IE), which is also free. Microsoft has the leeway of simply adding IE's development costs into the cost of its operating systems, so the user doesn't see any separate costs for that browser.
According to WebsideStory, IE's share among web users was 91 percent in April, down from 97 percent in June of 1994. They rated Opera at 0.2 percent and Firefox at 7 percent. Many people have turned to Firefox because of concerns about IE's security.
I've only used Opera on a Unix system, where I like its ability to have multiple webpages open in separate tabs and was impressed with its ability to recover from crashes. When I restarted Opera, it would allow me to go back to its state when the crash occurred with all of my previously open tabs displayed and with the ability to back up to previously viewed pages within those tabs. Since Opera is now free, I plan on installing it on my Windows systems as an alternative to IE . I now have Firefox on some of those systems as an alternative.
Opera Makes Its Browser Free, With No Ads
By Anick Jesdanun
September 21, 2005