Vivaldi 2.0 Desktop Browser Featuring Expanded Customization, Sync Across Devices and Privacy Tools Released [Q&A With Founder]

Vivaldi announced Wednesday it has released a major update to its namesake desktop web browser, remaining as one of the rare companies that is still attempting to fight Google's monopoly in the space. Major features in Vivaldi 2.0 include: Syncing browsers across computers:Version 2.0 allows users to sync data, including bookmarks, passwords, autofill information, and history. Vivaldi uses its own servers to store the data, which is all encrypted end-to-end.
Panels: These are expandable, multi-tasking dashboards that can be opened in the sidebar.
Tab management: Additional features are included that allow for better searching through tabs, stacking them, and even renaming them.
History: Offers new ways to track your usage, including generating statistics and a visual history feature.
Vivaldi was founded by Jon von Tetzchner, who also co-founded Opera and served as its chief executive for a number of years. Jon has been vocal about what many find unfair tactics employed by Google and Microsoft to aggressively expand the user bases of their respective browsers. Slashdot had a chance to speak with Jon recently: Slashdot: One of the biggest complaints that people have about browsers today is just how much memory they consume. Is it a lost-cause? What is Vivaldi doing to address this?
Jon: This is very true. Browsers can use a lot of memory. We have worked hard to reduce that load. The most important thing we have done there is the lazy loading of tabs. When you have a lot of tabs, you use a lot of memory, but with Vivaldi, we will only load the tabs once you need them. We also have the ability to hibernate background tabs, by right clicking the tab bar, which will free up a lot of memory. Besides this we are always looking at how to make the browser use less memory and be faster. There is a lot of details there, but with the feedback from our users, we continue to improve every single part of the browser.

Slashdot: You are offering a browser, and a web email client and service provider. Is Vivaldi attempting to offer a catalog of services? And if so, what more could we expect from the company in the long-term?

Jon: The focus for us is the browser, but we believe the browser should be able to do more than it does today, so we will continue to expand on the features we offer in the browser. We have been open about the fact that we aim to provide an email client in the browser, but that will come in the future, but we are, as you pointed out, providing the free email service. This is in addition to our free blog, forums and sync service. We feel there is a need for these services, free from ads and free from building of super profiles. Our free webmail service is thus without ads and we do not scan mails, except for spam and viruses. We will continue to add services to support the browser or where we feel a service supplements the browser in a good way.

Slashdot: You have been vocal about some of the tactics Google and Microsoft use to promote their own browsers. Following the news cycle, we don't think things have changed much. What's your view on it?

Jon: No, sadly things have not changed much. Microsoft continues to push their browser in their operating system, at times taking over the default browser as well. They also block competing browsers on their Windows 10S. Google sadly blocks some competing browsers from using their services, even browsers such as Vivaldi, that is based on Chromium. We need to change our identity when visiting many Google services. I guess my feeling is that those large companies should not and should not need to behave this way.

Slashdot: Chrome continues to be a market leader. Firefox, despite some of its recent changes, has lost some of the market. How hard is it for a browser company to survive these days? And why is it important that someone continues to fight back?

Jon: We all know that browser choice is a good thing, even more so than for most other products. The browser is your view into the Internet and we all spend a lot of time there. Healthy competition means product innovation and lower prices (this is not only about the price of the product, but also what you have to give up in other ways, such as your private information). Monopolies tend slow down innovation and also there is a tendency for them to use their position in one market to attack another. It is not trivial to compete with these large corporations, but it is something we enjoy. We fight for our users and for the future of the Internet. That is definitely something worth fighting for.

Slashdot: Are you folks still working on a mobile browser?

Jon: Indeed we are. We aim to get it out there as soon as we can. We are ramping up the team after then 2.0 release to move faster.
Further reading: The Next Web, and VentureBeat.