Opera kicked up a nice little dust cloud yesterday in announcing a new technology named Opera Unite that will allow the Opera browser to act as a limited web server. According to the press release, Opera Unite will allow users to share information and files on their computer without the need for third-party servers, which means Opera can serve up files, photos, music and even act as a web server.
As cool as this sounds, my first thought was: "How hard is the music industry going to throw down the hammer on this?" After all, they haven't been too fond of any other peer-to-peer file sharing service, so they won't be greeting Opera's announcement with open arms.
I'm sure we are in for some saber rattling pretty soon, which may very well take the form of lawsuits and injunctions and crazy legalese.
As for Opera Unite, I have to admit, it sounds pretty cool. I think it is a little redundant in areas. Flickr is still a better place to share photos. And web hosting? There are free options out there that would be fine depending upon your need, and professional hosting is actually pretty cheap. The big drawback to using Opera Unite? What if you want to (gasp) turn your computer off.
But considering the number of services offered, like the Lounge which will be your own private chat server and the Fridge which lets you leave post-its for your friends, Opera Unite could be a pretty cool tool to add to the shed.
A larger issue will be whether or not Opera Unite opens the door for hackers. Opera Unite uses a secure sandbox security model, but any folders mounted onto the virtual drive may be vulnerable.
Still, I think this is a great move by Opera. Internet Explorer's market share is slipping, Firefox's addons make it perhaps the most flexible and useful browser on the market, and Chrome is a speed demon. Opera needed something to give people a reason to use it, and Opera Unite sounds like a pretty good reason.