How a Little-Known Web Browser Took Over Belarus

Those not inclined toward obsessive techiness may not spend a lot of time thinking about which program they surf the Internet with (Explorer, Safari, Firefox—what’s the difference, really?), but at least one of them has a pretty fascinating story. Over at The Atlantic, Tim Fernholz explores the circumstances that made Opera the most widely-used web browser in Belarus, and it’s good reading for anyone who’s ever taken their connection for granted—even if they don’t know their Googles from their Bings.

“All the Norwegian company behind Opera can offer is the best feature set it can craft and the fastest browser it can make,” writes Fernholz. “But that turned out to be the best strategy in Belarus, which remains a largely socialist state with the infrastructure to match, including a state-run communications monopoly, Beltelcom.”

As it happens, tighter-than-usual browsing restrictions (for the region, anyway) allowed Opera to flourish in Belarus. Fernholz’s blow-by-blow, aided by interviews with a web developer and Opera staffer, is actually pretty compelling, and you just might have a newfound appreciation for your browser of choice by the end of the article. Check it out »

And for kicks, give Opera a try.

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