[sc:software-category ]Opera is moving to WebKit but the question is… is it a good thing?
I’ve used Opera for a long time, in fact I actually bought it way back before it was free software. With the announcement that they will be discontinuing Presto (their HTML engine) and moving to WebKit a basic question comes up… is Opera still Opera without Presto?
On a bigger picture kind of view, the loss of Presto is a pretty big thing. There were really only 4 major rendering engine’s in general use, Trident (IE), WebKit (Chrome, Safari, etc.), Gecko (Firefox) and Presto. With the loss of Presto that leaves only 3. The good news is that it doesn’t look like we’ll lose another one for quite a while, Microsoft is firmly behind Trident and is actively moving it forward. Mozilla simply won’t move from Gecko and they have the money (for now) and developers behind it. While WebKit is the darling of the industry at the moment.
The next to go will most likely be Gecko, with Firefox loosing market share to Chrome and Mozilla’s reliance on money from Google, it seems unlikely they can hold out for the long-term. Google will eventually get enough market share with Chrome they don’t need Firefox anymore and will start pulling back their funding. That would leave just two and it would be Microsoft against EVERYONE else. Of course, unlike Opera, Mozilla’s will be a slow slide down to oblivion so it won’t happen soon, but maybe within the next 5-10 years (check back then to see if I’m right or not ;).
Of course Microsoft could do a 180 and dump Trident, and they have done weirder things in the past (can anyone say Sidekick?), but that doesn’t seem very likely.
Overall I think it’s a big loss for the Internet but there’s not much we can do about it. Maybe Opera will open source Presto once they switch over to WebKit, but that doesn’t seem likely, it would just encourage someone to build more competition to Opera.