I started using the original Opera browser, built on the Presto rendering engine, with Opera version 5 or 6. The first record that I have of buying a license to remove the ads was in Version 6, July of 2002, but I had been using it with ads before that, so the version I likely started with was Version 5.12, released June of 2001. By then, the browser already had integrated email and I fell in love with it.
I’m a private investigator and safety consultant to the legal profession, and over the years I developed a workflow which integrated email and browser with a left-to-right and back-again pattern, whereby I received assignments by email, used the browser to complete them, and reported results back by email.
My email was on the left, browser was in the middle, and tabs plus a vertical bookmark bar were on the right. I could see everything I had received or was doing, plus all my controls, in a single view, and work left-to-right and back-again throughout my work day. I was also able to enhance my efficiency by determining where every single function button was in the browser, and what toolbars were visible or hidden. From time to time, I could throw in a little variety by altering the skin of Opera to optimize space usage and to match my mood or my particular taste for form and color at the time, so I could stay happy while working.
Then Opera ASA abandoned Presto. When they did so, they also abandoned the interface options that I had used for over a decade, and separated the mail client from the browser. Literally, I was bereft. I could “keep up with the times” and use the “new” opera, or I could stay with what I knew, and what worked. Then, one day, someone on the Opera blog mentioned a new browser by Jon S von Tetzchner (Co-founder and former CEO of Opera) which had been released only a day prior. On Jan 28, 2015, I installed and tried Vivaldi and was immediately hooked. By some time in February 2015, I was using it as my default browser. It was far from perfect, and although integrated email was promised but not yet delivered, it DID promise email, and it allowed me to place my tabs vertically on the side without the irritations and glitches of the Sidewise extension, it let me make my Bookmark Bar show icons only without installing an extension, it had hierarchical folders in Speed Dial and Bookmark Bar, and it promised a return to my long-standing and completely workable workflow.
Since that time, I have used Vivaldi as a production machine par excellence and I continue to do so. I could scarcely be happier with it. To make matters even better, the ability to modify the visual color and form of the Vivaldi UI, a feature long-abandoned by the new Opera, has brought me further comfort and mental relaxation during my work day, and I look forward to a long and productive relationship with a tool/workspace/digital office that has finally enabled me to make a return to the efficiency which the “progress” of the browser I used to depend on, ceased to provide.