Opera ditches Presto, moves to WebKit



Norwegian software company Opera has ditched Presto, the rendering engine that currently powers Opera web browser, in favour of WebKit.

WebKit powers the Apple Safari and Google Chrome browsers. That means it currently has the largest market share out of any layout engine on the market right now.

The company is apparently tired of swimming against the tide of a web built for Chrome and Safari, although it says the changes will help it provide a leading browser on Android and iOS.

“The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need,” says CTO of Opera Software, Håkon Wium Lie. “It makes more sense to have our experts working with the open source communities to further improve WebKit and Chromium, rather than developing our own rendering engine further. Opera will contribute to the WebKit and Chromium projects, and we have already submitted our first set of patches: to improve multi-column layout.”

The news comes as Opera announced that it passed the 300-million user mark across all its browser products on phones, tablets, TVs and computers.

“300-million marks the first lap, but the race goes on,” says Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software. “On the final stretch up to 300-million users, we have experienced the fastest acceleration in user growth we have ever seen. Now, we are shifting into the next gear to claim a bigger piece of the pie in the smartphone market.”

Opera will show off what it’s been doing with WebKit at Mobile World Congress in March, with a preview of its new Android browser. It’s already demonstrated what it can do with WebKit when it demonstrated an early version of the browser, dubbed ICE, last month.

“We will provide more information about ICE and other exciting R&D projects in the future, but as we are also really proud of our new browser on Android and our Opera Web Pass operator offering, those products will be the main focus at MWC,” says Wium Lie. “The shift to WebKit means more of our resources can be dedicated to developing new features and the user-friendly solutions that can be expected from a company that invented so many of the features that are today being used by everyone in the browser industry.”



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