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Chromebooks finally get a new web browser - but is it too late?

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

The browser wars have only just started on Google’s Chromebooks, with Opera releasing an alternative web browser for the Chrome OS operating system.

The only choice for a web browser has only ever been Chrome, with users having no alternative as Apple, Mozilla and Microsoft have not seen a need to create versions for Chromebooks.

However, Opera has seen an opportunity in this area, which is why there is now a native version of the web browser available for Google’s Chromebooks.

What does Opera bring?

If you’ve used Opera before, you’ll feel at home here, as everything has been transferred over to Chrome OS. From the built-in VPN to chat apps, the browser has been optimized to work on Chromebooks in order to be a worthy competitor to Chrome.

Alongside themes and an ad blocker, there’s also the useful feature called Flow, where you can store links and images, and they will sync between Opera browsers installed on your other devices.

“Chromebooks, with their user-friendly interface and touchscreens, are excellent devices for people’s everyday needs. We decided it’s high time their users got access to an excellent alternative browser with a unique set of features they’ll find both useful and fun.” said Stefan Stjernelund, product manager of Opera for Android.

The new version of Opera for Chrome OS and Chromebooks can be downloaded here

Analysis: choice is good

It’s long overdue that we see an alternative web browser on Chromebooks after so many years of being stuck using Google’s browser. These machines stand up well alongside other laptops for students, so this may even tempt others to switch over to Opera, especially if they already have it installed on their smartphone or tablet.

Opera has been known as the browser-equivalent of a pen-knife - it can do a lot of things, but you may find yourself only using two features at most. However, what it does bring to the table is security, with its ad-blocker and built-in VPN that could tempt many to switch just for that.

Competition is good, and this could be a great opportunity for Opera on Chrome OS, especially as users have only ever been able to use the Chrome browser. However, will Opera struggle to gain a foothold in Chrome OS, as users who have been comfortable in what they’ve been using for years may simply stick with Chrome?

Daryl Baxter

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and iPad. If you have a story about a newly-updated app or one that's about to launch, drop him a line.