IE and Firefox get a new 'free' competitor.
Described as the fastest Web browser available on any platform, Opera pioneered several features that we now take for granted, including tabbed browsing. The latest version--code-named Merlin--is full-featured with an inline search box, a password manager, integrated security features, an integrated email and newsgroup client, and facilities for navigating its entire interface via voice or keyboard.
Opera freed its browser to better compete with Mozilla Firefox, a free browser alternative that has managed to secure more than 8 percent of the market over the past year. By comparison, Opera, which has been around for 10 years, has garnered only 1 percent to 2 percent of the overall browser market. Web browser experts have often hailed Opera's superiority to Firefox and market-leader Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), but the earlier policy of charging for the privilege of using the product turned away many users. Now Opera hopes to make up the lost income from paid users via a link to Google in the search box.
My guess is that this would dampen Firefox's momentum since switchers from IE now have an option of either Opera or Firefox.