Opera plans switch to WebKit

Opera Software has announced plans to abandon its own Presto rendering engine and move to using WebKit, the same engine that powers Chrome and Safari.

It plans to make the transition gradually, introducing Webkit over the course of the year for both smartphones and PCs so that it can provide a better browser for Android and iOS. Developers, it says, should be able to carry on pretty much as normal.

“The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need,” says Opera CTO Håkon Wium Lie.

“It makes more sense to have our experts working with the open source communities to further improve WebKit and Chromium, rather than developing our own rendering engine further. Opera will contribute to the WebKit and Chromium projects, and we have already submitted our first set of patches: to improve multi-column layout.”

Opera’s experimenting with WebKit in several research and development projects, says Wium Lie. The company plans to give the world a first look at what it’s up to at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this month, with a preview of its upcoming browser for Android.

“The shift to WebKit means more of our resources can be dedicated to developing new features and the user-friendly solutions that can be expected from a company that invented so many of the features that are today being used by everyone in the browser industry,” says Wium Lie.

The company’s also announced that it’s now hit 300 million monthly users across all its browser products on phones, tablets, TVs and computers.

“300 million marks the first lap, but the race goes on,” says CEO Lars Boilesen. “On the final stretch up to 300 million users, we have experienced the fastest acceleration in user growth we have ever seen. Now, we are shifting into the next gear to claim a bigger piece of the pie in the smartphone market.”