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Can Opera finally sing on Google's Chromebooks and Windows 11?

Opera browser logo on a Google Chromebook
(Image credit: Shutterstock - CC Photo Labs)

We’ve seen some big improvements in the common web browser this year, with Firefox and Safari seeing big redesigns, and the Opera browser is available now on Google’s Chromebooks.

In the run up to students returning to campus soon, it’s looking more important than ever for web browsers to do more than just display web pages that meet a certain standard - as they now have to help with communication, work and even streaming.

With the R5 update now available, we spoke to Opera about plans for the near future, including how it is preparing for the launch of Windows 11.

Opera and Chromebooks, together

With Chromebooks having been in student’s hands for some years now, our first question to Opera was unsurprisingly, why only now?

“We always believed in providing people with the ability to choose a different browser than the system default. We’ve noticed the growing importance and popularity of Chromebooks during the past year and a half and decided to act on it,” said Stefan Stjernelund, product manager Opera for Android and Arjan van Leeuwen, Product Engineering Lead, Opera Desktop.

“It’s a hard balance with a web browser that does more than display the internet within a modern user interface, so we wanted to know what the team were specifically proud of, as we’ve passed its 26th anniversary this year of being available to users.”

“We treat our browser as a whole, but are of course proud of the many features that were previously unavailable in a browser on ChromeOS. We’ve added unlimited, free browser VPN, native access to messengers, Instagram and Twitter as well as the built-in crypto wallet. But looking at the bigger picture, we are very proud to continue providing superior browsers that don’t come pre-installed on people’s devices. This means people who use Opera have taken a moment to consider their options and chosen our browser vs. the original default - that’s what we’re particularly proud of.”

Opera browser

(Image credit: Opera)

Windows 11 and Opera

Of course with Windows 11 on the horizon, we asked Opera if having its web browser on the Store was something that it was looking at before the launch, and what its thoughts were on the upgrade so far.

“We are exploring our options but our goal will be to bring Opera to the Microsoft Store as soon as possible. So far, we’ve seen a bit more user-friendliness in the new Windows 11 UI and, of course, any such changes that make our users’ lives easier on Windows are welcome,” Stjernelund and van Leeuwen note. 

“In terms of the Microsoft Store, we're very happy to see Microsoft is opening up the store to more products and developers, and we think this might be an opportunity to distribute Opera to users who are used to the app store model of downloads.”

New Windows 11 build showing search bar in start menu

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Accessibility in R5

With the R5 update now out for users, accessibility is a topic that’s being seen, quite rightly, as a high priority by many companies now. Opera agreed in this perspective, that the user experience has to take top priority when working on future versions of the web browser.

“Improving the user experience is always our top priority at Opera: that’s why we placed built-in messengers as well as Twitter, Instagram and a music player directly in the sidebar. 

In the case of R5, it has certainly been important to make the new features easy to reach and use. In case of easier videoconferencing with the video call pop out, the user needn’t worry about accessing it, it is there and will be automatically activated when he or she switches to a different tab: the video call will remain on top. In the case of pinboards, they are easily accessible directly from the address bar (the pin symbol).”

Opera GX on Chromebooks?

With Opera on Chromebooks now an alternative option for users, especially for students as the next academic year is on the horizon, we wanted to see if the gaming version of Opera, GX, could also be coming to Google’s laptops in the future.

“Let’s see. We just launched the mobile version of Opera GX, so it’s now available on all major platforms other than Chromebook.”

Daryl Baxter

Daryl is the Software and Downloads Writer at TechRadar, where you will see his posts covering Apple, Google, Microsoft and the software that they all inhabit.