Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Opera Unite: Your Browser Is Now a Full-Featured Server [Browsers]

Opera Unite: Your Browser Is Now a Full-Featured Server [Browsers]

On top of the server-side compression and new interface we saw last week, Opera has done something pretty wild with the next version of their software: they've turned it into a zero-config server for files, music, photos and websites.

The concept is somewhere between a personal web server and a filesharing application, technologically and conceptually. The interface is straighforward, divided into panels for each service that you choose to "host." All of them behave in the same stupid-simple way: you start a service, whether it be photo sharing, music streaming, web hosting, or straight file sharing, select a shared directory, set your privacy preferences and go. There are also hosted chat services, and "Fridge," which is a—you guessed it—hosted quasi-Facebook wall, for other Opera users to drop notes on.

Even at this early stage you can find a lot of hosted content to explore, including plenty of publicly streamable music, which will almost certainly cause Opera problems even though, strictly speaking, they're not actually doing the streaming. There's no video service for now, but Unite is extensible, meaning that anyone can design a plugin to add to the program's default file-serving capabilities.

Opera is proud of the fact that Unite runs against the tide of most new web services, opting for client-side content hosting over cloud-based solutions—so proud, in fact, that th! ey're ab le to repeatedly, straight-facedly describe Unite as a "Web 5.0" product, which is a bit rich considering it is just a collection of services that have been available for years, albeit never in such a simple or consolidated way. As a convenient tool for sharing large amounts of content, I get it. As a game-changer? I'm not so sure.

Of course, you might, so just try it out: a technical preview of Opera Unite is available for download here. [Opera]