Updated: March 29, 2010
The sense of betrayal is probably the hardest emotion to cope with, the realization of a difficult truth that the trust you have given has been abused. Your defenses are down. When it comes to people, we react with anger, possibly even violence. Not without a reason is the crime of treason treated with such harsh penalties. When it comes to software, you pull out the digital chopping block and swing your e-axe. When software betrays your trust, it's time for some stringent house cleaning.
I have been using the Opera for several years as my secondary browser. While it was not perfect, it worked fine and without any issues. The later versions also had a built-in self update mechanism that made patching easier. The browser would download the updates, install them, restart itself, and all would be well.
However, something drastic changed between version 10.10 and 10.51 a week ago. Like many times before, Opera started its usual self update process. I did not mind and let it be. After the update was complete, I discovered my trust had been violated.
Here's what Opera browser update did and should not have done:
Added shortcuts onto my desktop and the Quick Launch toolbar
The shortcuts were never there, so why put them? I don't want them. Don't force them on people. If their setup is arranged in a way certain items did not exist before the update, then they should not exist afterwards, either.
Changed the browser layout
Furthermore, Opera update decided to ignore my preferences. I had the File menu show up normally, it was gone now. The theme I used was replaced with a new one. A handful of toolbars were plastered onto the browser window, none of which I normally use or need and keep disabled in Opera settings.
I had this:
And I got this:
Thank you Opera for deciding what's best for me. My choice and taste are irrelevant. I honestly appreciate the one-size-fit-all, modernistic, pseudo-Chrome looks you bundled with version 10.51.
Restoring my defaults was not easy. Vanishing the extra toolbars was just a matter of going through the settings. However, restoring the File menu was more difficult. Only after some Googling was I able to find the solution:
Open the Opera Preferences Editor by typing opera:config in the address bar, then in the configuration panel, search for show menu item and enable it.
Set itself as a default browser
Worst of all, it decided that it should become my primary browser and dislodge Firefox from the throne. Not something I asked for. But the transgression was far worse than that. The icons for HTML files normally associated with Firefox were replaced with an Opera equivalent.
Now comes the really annoying part: when I reset Firefox to be the default browser, Windows got confused. The Opera icons were gone, but Firefox icons did not come up. I read online for solutions, which included a dozen registry hacks, deleting the icons cache, and whatnot. None helped.
The end result was: I restored an image of my Windows operating system to a week before. I did not lose any data and only had to perform minor fixes to certain programs and plugins that have changed since. However, for all practical purposes, it was a catastrophic fiasco that required bringing the system offline and restoring the system image. Unforgivable.
End result: uninstall
Following this experience, there is only one thing left: remove the browser.
I know that a million people will tell me that they underwent the same update procedure and it worked fine. I do not dispute that. However, my personal experience is the only one that matters in this case. Trust is earned and when lost, it's lost forever.
I have very low tolerance for software bugs of any kind, take years warming up to software and do not put up with any changes to my setup without my explicit approval. In this case, a series of changes was forced on me, which is plain wrong.
The conclusion to this article is very simple. User trust is the most precious commodity that software developers have. They should make every effort not to lose it.
What remains to be done is the following: I now need to decide what other browser I want to use in Windows as a secondary choice. Internet Explorer is not a viable option. Safari and Chrome are pretty toys. So something else. The hunt begins.
I am really disappointed, but well, it's just software. Sometimes, it fits the bill and you use it. Sometimes, you find software inadequate and you remove it from your array. From this day on, when asked, I believe I will not be able to recommend Opera as a browser of choice.
Have fun and let no software gain an upper hand on you.