When Opera introduced widgets in 2006, they were a part of the browser meant to extend the browser’s capabilities. These widgets were, in fact, full fledged web applications built using Web technologies (such as HTML, CSS, AJAX, Canvas, and SVG), and powered by Opera.
Today Opera Labs announced Opera Widgets for the desktop – a complimentary technology that lets you run Opera Widgets as standalone applications on the desktop even when the browser is not running. Opera now joins other desktop widget engines like Yahoo, Google Gadgets and Windows Gadgets.
One massive advantage Opera Widgets enjoy over other widget engines is that it’s based on the same open standards that power the Web, such as HTML and CSS. Not only that makes Opera widgets cross platform, but it enables Web developers to write full-featured applications by using and building upon the skills they already have, without having to learn a totally brand-new programming language each time they want to support a new device.
The second advantage is that unlike other widget engines that need to constantly run in the background to power the widgets, Opera Widgets run on their own process as regular desktop applications. They are no longer dependent on the browser. Opera Widgets come with their own installers and can be launched from the start menu.
To use the new Opera Widget platform, you must download and install the Labs build of the Opera browser which is available at the bottom of this page. Once Opera is installed, it will automatically take you to the widget page. Install any widget you want and customize the installation directory. You can now close the browser and access your installed widgets from the start menu. So, even if you use a different browser like Firefox, you can still use Opera widget. Isn’t that wonderful?
Another great thing is the backward compatibility. If you are using Opera 10 or earlier versions or even earlier builds, Opera Widget will work like it used to work previously - within the browser.