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For me, Opera lost most of its attractiveness, when they started sacrificing speed, small size and footprint to the demand for a kitchen sink solution.
Errrh...Not really. See, Opera has a browser, an email client, an RSS reader, a Usenet reader, an IRC client, a BitTorrent client, everything in one application and weights 4.20MB. Now, Firefox only has a browser but weights...5.57MB. How does that sound to you?
Integrated mail clients (heck, I cannot imagine anyone seriously uses it!)
Me. And where I work also. I used to use MS Outlook and Thunderbird. Opera's M2 is just a lot better to handle large amounts of emails with its filters and its database concept rather than directories. Oh, and I have never have any data corruption problem with Opera M2 in 4 years. I really[i] suggest you give it a whirl, and try to use its features entirely. It's a little weird to use filters instead of directories in the beginning but afterward, you don't look back. It's kind of Gmail vs. Hotmail, really.
[i]integrated mail, bittorrent, desktop widgets and lost of other gimmicks with very limited use.
Integrated mail is neat, really. Not launching a second application when you click a mail link is much better. And a desktop mail client is faster than a webmail, obviously.
Some years later, everyone else was re-discovering the "just a browser" paradigm (pioneered by Galeon, who remembers?) while Opera was heading in the opposite direction.
Opera is different, and Opera users want it to stay different for sure
I just don't want Opera to be and to behave like Mozilla or Microsoft browsers, I don't feel at ease each time I have to use one of those. I feel I'm missing something when I have to use a browser-only application. Personally, I prefer Seamonkey to Firefox because it's more feature-rich, but I dislike the fact that Seamonkey hasn't integrated its subapplications into just one, among other problems. Opera will stay a niche browser most probably because not many people like the way it is. If people liked Internet suites, Seamonkey would be in front of Firefox, but in fact, people hardly ever use Seamonkey, they prefer Firefox, same for Opera.
To me the final momentum which removed opera from the list of options that I consider seriously, was that fact that less and less of those omnipresent web 2.0 sites play well with Opera.
This is true, and not just Web 2.0 sites. Any web site may work well, not that well, or not at all. This is because people are too lazy to test their sites in Opera. Some people don't even test their sites in Firefox (these notorious IE-only sites).