The whole Desktop department at Opera Software in Oslo was laid off this week. Other departments were also affected. After six and a half years at Opera Software, it’s time for me to move on to other things. The development of Opera for computers continues at Opera’s other offices.
I started working at Opera in 2008 when I was 20. I was hired for one department, but by the time I started, I was put in the Desktop department as a Technical Service Consultant. Testing Opera for Mac and responding to all sorts of weird user support tickets became my workday. One of my more memorable tasks in support was helping users get through the notoriously difficult registration CAPTCHAs. The CAPTCHAs were animated nightmares and it always took me a dozen attempts to get them right!
As Opera discontinued its Opera Web Mail and paid Premium Support services, I went through a little career re-branding to QA Tester. Still focusing primarily on the quality of Opera’s browser for Mac.
Opera was a special snowflake among the then thin selection of browsers in the market. It had every feature imaginable. Many of them very useful. Right-clicking on a page and setting Auto-reload interval remains a favorite of mine.
By 2013, Opera had so many features it had become very difficult to maintain and modernize. I would like to be able to say that Opera disproved Zawinski’s Law. “Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which can’t so expand are replaced by ones which can.” Unfortunately, Jamie Zawinski failed to accommodate programs that evolve into platforms of their own. The web is now the world’s biggest operating system. Every web browser can now read email through webmail. Opera’s email client and other unique features had failed to attract the masses. Something had to change.
Opera changed the Desktop product quite a bit in 2013. Transitioning from their own in-house Presto rendering engine technology to Chromium. This was a huge technical change and it was decided to ditch the Desktop product and start anew. Rebuilding a new browser on-top of the Chromium open-source project and WebKit (later Blink). I agreed with this move and still think it was the right decision for Opera.
This was a huge shift for everyone and especially the then displaced employees in the Core department who were moved to other departments. Although I don’t envy the people who were shifted around, I’m glad the transition happened. It allowed me to get better acquainted with many interesting people. During this period, my position as Test Lead for Mac was formalized.
My continuous design critique eventually landed me in the Desktop Design department in February 2014. Where I focused on improving the user experience and contributed on many feature designs.
I can’t say I feel like I was done with Opera. Letting go of your baby is never easy. I’m proud that especially Opera’s Mac browser is now in a better shape than ever before. There were many ongoing projects and things I would have liked to see finished. However, my story and time with Opera have come to an end.
Google Now keeps trying to get me to go back to work. I haven’t found a way to remove my old work address from its systems. I can only replace the old with a new address. So I’ve started looking for a new job in the Oslo area. I’ll admit that this notification was a bit uncomfortable the first morning it showed up. I’d even made sure to remove my work address from Google+ and Google Maps the night before.
A big thank you to everyone I’ve met at Opera. I’m very grateful for the time there and the experiences I’ve gathered. The best wishes to all of you in the future.
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