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Opera Software's amazing 'Project Magic'

This is the page that first appeared on 10 October.

Opera is our marvellous web browser for Windows. It is small, fast, user-friendly (well, most of the time ;-)), customizable and ideal for partially sighted folks, too. Multiple windows, Zoom, complete keyboard navigation, Javascript, and SSL are but just a few features we have squeezed in less than 1MB space!

Now down to business: Over the past couple of weeks, particularly since the release of Opera 3.0 beta, we have received a number of mails from users of operating systems other than MS Windows, asking why there is no Opera web browser for their favourite OS. The answer is simple: currently, our funds are going into Windows development -- for reasons you will surely understand -- leaving too little for other operating systems.

We were trying to explain this, but you didn't let go, and we salute you for this. As a result, we are now taking the bull by the horns, and this is what 'Project Magic' is all about: pushing the development of Opera for these OS forward. But we need your vote of confidence and your commitment for the success of this project.

What we have in mind...
We would like to get your 'Vote of Confidence' that you would be interested in purchasing a native version of Opera. If we get sufficient numbers (for OS/2 and Mac we already have them), we will get in contact with you again and perask for a forward payment of $35 per copy (obviously with the appropriate volume discounts in place). This money will then go into one of the three managed trust accounts we have set up, and be used only to pay the programmers working on your, minus a minute admin fee, which is inevitible.

Why do we do this?
Very simple. Without the funds to channel into Mac, OS/2, X11 and BeOS development, you will have to wait a lot longer for a native version - if it ever happens. By us asking you to put your money where your mouth is, you will actively speed up the development process. You will help yourself, your fellow users, the platform in general, but you will also help us to make Opera even better.

We also do this to offer you and the market choice - real choice. We are dying to bring you a native version of Opera, and the sooner we can do it, the more happy it would make us.

What happens if we don't do it?
This thought it too ghastly to contemplate. You know about the initiatives on the Mac and OS/2 platform AFA browsers are concerned, and you have found your way to this site because you don't like it, right? If we fail with our initiative, you would be the victim. We can happily survive with Windows, but you are almost forced to use one of the big boys' code-monsters!

What you have to do

    1. We want you to tell us that you are prepared to purchase Opera, even though development hasn't even started.
    2. We want you to tell all your friends about this initiative and exciting drive to provide you with a faster, more user-friendly and more satisfying surfing experience.

Until the 30th of November, 1997, we want everybody interested in forward-purchasing a copy of Opera for their platform to send a mail the appropriate email address below, telling us how many copies for the price of $35 they'd be interested in purchasing, or how much money above the $35 they would be prepared to pay for their copy.

And then?
After the 30th of November, 1997 - given the above numbers are met - we will be contacting you with exact details of how to fulfil your pledge (read: transfer the money). Upon receipt we will be sending you an acknowledgement; then the real fun starts... The coders will get their fingers burning, and we will be staying in touch with you all the way to keep you informed about what is happening with your money.

It would be foolish to set a release date, and your know that, but you can rest assured that something is done, rather than us shifting the goal posts all the time.

And when it will be released
Then the price will be set somewhat higher than the $35, so you score there already. But of course, all of you, who have supported us and made the magic happen, will get their copy free of charge. The rest will have to pay full price.

You may ask why this price is higher than the Windows price. The answer is that the price for the windows version is likely to be adjusted, too, bringing all of them onto one equal level.

All we can say is 'Thank you'. We appreciate your trust in us, and we will try our very best to satisfy your expectations.

Looking forward in great anticipation,

Your Opera Team

Feedback time...

15 October - Update: It's now four days into Project Magic, and we'd like to give you some first feedback we got from you gentle folks. Enjoy it right here.

21 October - Update: It's now ten days into Project Magic, and the Mac community is coming out in full force. The Linux chaps are still on the thin side; because of that and user requests, we have changed it to X11, which apparently makes more sense as it covers a wider market than just Linux.

Please note that the numbers on the right are actual mails. The number of 'orders' is much higher, as they often range between 2-5, some of them going as high as 60, with far more in the pipeline if we manage to make some network administrators happy.

Remember, what we are doing right now is research. No details with regard to features or certain platforms (040, 030, PowerMac, Rhapsody, OS/2 2.11, OS/2 Warp, FreeBSD, etc...) have been set, but we are already getting invaluable feedback from you folks with regard to what you would like to see in Opera for your platform. Please keep it coming!

We are also getting some BeOS and DOS requests, but whereas BeOS could be a viable alternative (Please, BeOS folks, let us know and help us spread the word!), DOS is rather unlikely. We suggest you keep an eye on the GEOS platform. The company in charge (New Deal, Inc.) is working hard on bringing the Net to users of older PC (286/386).

Some folks have asked what is happening if we don't fulfil our 'pledge'. Again, we are in the research stage; it may even be possible that we don't ask for money upfront. It all depends on the feedback we are getting from you. Some also ask about a 'share' in the company. The answer to this is: if Opera was trading publicly, we wouldn't have asked you for this new financing scheme on this page. However, if Opera starts trading publicly, it is very likely that those who have supported us, will enjoy preferential treatment.

As far as features are concerned, we cannot promise that all Opera/Win features will make it to the other platforms, but we will certainly try to. Some Mac folks ask about specific Mac features, and reject the idea of a plain Windows port. We understand this, and will try to take this into consideration when doing the Mac Version.

Please let us renew our call for support. Please help us get the numbers by spreading the word, using our button(s), making announcements in mailing lists etc. Also, if you have access to a Windows PC, download our latest version and see for yourself what amazing features you already get in a little more than 1MB. OS/2 users can d/l the 16bit version of Opera and ... be amazed!

Lastly, you surely want to know about negative comments. Yes, we do get them - which is normal - but they are so small in numbers ( <= 10) that they are almost negligible. We do, however, take them seriously and appreciate them, as they are valid concerns.

22 October - Update: Getting more and more requests for BeOS, and also because of their self-initiative, we have added it to our research project. So, BeOS folks, let's see you out there in full force!
23 October - Update: Tyler Regas brings to our attention that you can run Opera on a VirtualPC partition running Win95.

I already have a copy of Opera installed on my VirtualPC partition running Win95. Even under emulation Opera is marvellously speedy. I am amazed! [...] I can only imagine a deep, personal sense of happiness as I surf the web in full style with a browser that takes up less then a MEG and STILL does all the cool stuff!

27 October - Update: Although the numbers are topping off slightly, they are still coming in nicely, and the response has been absolutely superb. We are also getting very nice support from Mac Evangelists inside Apple, as well as right from the top of Be, which shows us even more that our sentiment was right - and so was our initiative. We are also trying to get the attention of IBM and Lotus, and it's just a matter of time until they come to the realisation that this project is worth supporting.

Nevertheless, this is not the time to sit back and relax. It's the time to go out and tell everybody about Project Magic. The world should know that there is something happening in the browser market, and it's something that benefits you, the user of the Internet.

Lastly, we will soon put up a page with some interesting findings resulting from Project Magic. Compelling reading, indeed.

03 November - Update: We are now three weeks into Project Magic, with another four to go, and it's again 'update time'.

As you can see, the number of 'pledges' is still rising steadily. Please remember though that the actual orders are much higher, as some of the emails ask for 2-5 copies, some of them for 50-60 copies. Due to time constraints, however, we can only show you the number of emails rather than 'preorderd' copies at this stage. As a general guideline, you may want to add 10-20% to each figure shown to see how many 'copies' have been 'ordered'.

Also, the average price our supporters are prepared to pay averages about $45, which is $10 above the price we were 'asking' for. A couple of people have asked us about this issue of numbers, emails and prices. Our response is that we are not looking at a figure cast in concrete. We are looking at the general response of you out there, your willingness to support this project and your 'cut-off' point for pricing.

As you can gather, we are very pleased with your response to Project Magic, and although we haven't reached the 'target' of 3000 pre-orders yet (after three out of seven weeks), it is almost certain that the work on a Mac and OS/2 version will commence shortly, whereas we would need more support and interest from the Linux/X11 and BeOS community in order to make these a viable commercial and sustainable alternative.

On the company support front, we have established a very good contact to Apple who is helping us with technical support and issues, as well as finding programming resources. We also approached IBM, who we thought to be an ideal partner in this venture because of their lack of a decent browser for OS/2 and because of Lotus' lack of a browser as part of the SmartSuite. Two mails were sent to Lou Gerstner, but looking at their emails and a telephone call (00:30am this morning!), IBM is not interested 'at this time' in satisfying the needs and requirements of its own user base - very sad indeed. But what the heck, if they won't do it, at least we will try our best to provide you with a real 'solution for a small planet'. ;-)

06 November - Update: Well, what can we say?... If you look at the stats, you'll see that the Be fans are really putting in a concerted effort, with special thanks going to Mike Russell for his support, as well as Steve Hacker for his article on ZDNet's BeHive. In fact, the Be votes have topped all other OS over the past two days.

But seeing the curve top off a bit, I think it's time for another 'energy injection'. I haven't done any more promotion of PM, but will do so over the coming weekend.

Again, thanks to all of you out there for the overwhelmingly positive response to PM. And to all of you, please help us spread the word amongst your friends. Also remember that you can d/l the latest beta (3.0b8) and run it on Wintel machines, on WinOS2 and on a Virtual PC running Win95. If you can't run it yourself, download it, copy it onto a diskette and run it on a friend's machine. Note: Don't try this with other browsers though; you may run out of diskettes. ;-)

12 November - Update: Mac Mails hit four digits! We are now one month into Project Magic, and the support mails and pledges are coming in on a steady basis. We are gaining about 5% on the previous day on average. The Mac mails received today hit 1000! Thank you to all of you for your support! OS/2 is on 910 and growing, and the small Be community is still coming in with above average numbers. Well done!

I would like you to help us even more: I would like all of you to send mails to your respective OS developers and ask them to throw their weight behind Project Magic, because at the end of the day it will only benefit the market - and you. IBM still seems a little disoriented. On one hand they are telling us Opera (or is that the Internet?) is not of strategic importance, but from another reliable source I hear that one of their last 'boot camps' had one major topic: IBM and the Internet. However, OS/2 users confirm this behaviour. One of many mails is shown below, but they all read like this:

"WRT your comments on IBM: Most OS/2 users could have told you that IBM corporate would be worthless as a resource. You may not want to give up, however; there are individuals within IBM who can be very helpful on this kind of thing. Also, try asking on Usenet (comp.os.os2.programmer.misc, for example.) I am looking forward to a better browser."

"Anyone who has used OS/2 for any length of time will tell you that this is TYPICAL of IBM's attitude. If you are looking for OS/2 "assistance", enthusiasm and progamming support, get in touch with "TeamOS/2" at: http://teamos2.org/"

We are also getting a few people asking for an Amiga port, but we'd need a lot more than that. Same for Atari and other 'past' operating systems. But then again, you may say that OS/2 also seems to be a past OS. ;-)

Again, thanks for your support, and don't you get slack. Please help us spread the word, or at least read my latest update letter.

15 November - Update: After five weeks time we thought it was necessary to go again to the newsgroups and popular websites and post some feedback, as not everybody will have been to this site to read the progress report. Furthermore, various user groups are supporting us by creating awareness for PM; this has resulted in numerous pledges coming from their side too, and we really appreciate this.

Not much has happened on the corporate front in the past three days, but you will definitely read any progress right here, so be sure to check back often.

Numbers? Mac is well above 1000 now, and OS/2 approaching it rapidly. Be has not really caught up, but it remains one of the most interesting options for us regardless. Linux is not enough looking at the apparently millions of users out there; we expected more, and we also expected some commercial interest which still has to be forthcoming.

Again, thank you to all of you out there who are supporting us! Hope you are having a relaxing and peaceful weekend. See ya' again soon.

21 November - Update: Not much has happened this week. The Be numbers slowed down quite a bit, but looking at the 'state' the BeOS is in right now, they are still impressive. Also, from what I could gather, the 'average' Be user is most definitely of a different breed WRT job title and income, and prepared to spend decent money for decent software - quite refreshing compared to a market spoilt rotten by 'free' browser offers. Interesting to see that despite the BeOS state, the numbers are merely half those of Linux, with millions of users. Maybe the Linux users are too used to free software...

Linux? Well, users told us they haven't seen our announcement on c.o.l.announce, although it has been sent to the moderator. We were trying to get it on there again, but to no avail so far. We are still getting some nice feedback from Linux users, but the numbers are way to low to commit ourselves to a X11 port/development.

OTOH, the OS/2 folks are getting very close to overtaking the Mac numbers -- if you want to see it from a competitive angle. ;-)

I also had a nice exchange with Guy Kawasaki, the famous Mac evangelist. Guy has put me onto someone else at Apple who can possibly assist us with a Mac version of Opera -- which would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Guy!

We are still getting tremendous feedback from you guys, with tons of tips and recommendations, as well as contacts to other programming, software and marketing sources. We are also seeing more and more PM buttons pop up across the globe, directing attention to this page.

Another thing we really appreciate is your professional support. Many of you are working in a consultany function, offering us help to introduce Opera to your client base, which we also greatly appreciate and value.

Well, nine days left until the formal end of Project Magic. Nine days to get more votes of confidence. Nine more days to show your support.

Lastly, you may have realised that with thousands of mails, one also gets quite an array of taglines. For your entertainment, I have extracted a few and put them together on this page, which is not hosted on this domain, though, for reasons you will understand.

24 November - Update: With one week left to go, pledges are still coming in nicely. Something must have happened to the Linux/X11 users, as support from thatside has picked up considerably. OS/2 has surpassed the Mac mails in sheer numbers... Be is getting a bit weak..., but still, your support has been absolutely fantastic.

We are busy carefully planning Phase II of Project Magic. This includes deciding which way to go WRT financing, determining the new platform(s), sourcing programmers and a whole lot more. Other than that, no news over the weekend.

27 November - Update: Three days to go - at least officially. Over the next few days, you will see a last announcement/feedback report on the newsgroups before we officially close on Sunday. Then I would like you to give us one week for further discussions and negotiations, after which Phase II will come into effect.

Again, thank you very much for all your support you have given us over the past weeks, and although we won't be able to please all of you, the upcoming developments will surely spell good news for hundreds of thousands of Internet users, and propel Opera Software to the next level. What makes me say that? Read our guestbook, and you will know. But now have a great, relaxing and peaceful weekend and stay tuned for the 'finale' on Sunday.

[Project Magic Stats]
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