Opera unveils Neon, a concept browser that changes how you browse the web

Opera is looking to spice up browsers once again with its latest project, simply called Opera Neon (opens in new tab). Meant as a kind of concept browser, Opera Neon changes up what has become a relatively staid desktop browser market by offering some interesting new ideas on how to browse the web.

Upon starting up Opera Neon, you'll immediately see some big differences between it and your usual browser of choice. The browser automatically pulls in your desktop wallpaper to act as a backdrop to its start page, while easily identifiable bubbles on the side of the app replace the typical tab bar up top. Neon also includes video pop-out and split screen modes, allowing you to easily watch a video while you browse other sites, or simply stack two windows next to each other with just a click.

Neon also has a number of other cool flourishes, ranging from easy screenshots to a physics engine, that are worth checking out. Keep in mind that Neon isn't meant to fully replace whatever browser you currently use, as the emphasis is definitely on the word "concept" here. However, it is definitely an interesting experiment in how the browser space could be shaken up in the future. Plus, as an interesting (but unrelated) aside, the browser just happens to share a name with Microsoft's Project Neon, Windows 10's upcoming visual refresh that's meant to be a "UI that transports across devices."

Interested in trying out Opera Neon? If so, you can download the experimental browser and give it a shot from Opera now. Also be sure to chime in and let us know what you think in the comments!

Download Opera Neon (opens in new tab)

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Did everyone agree that NEON is the new names for UIs in 2017? Anyway, I like this. Surprised (maybe not) that Microsoft did not do this with Edge yet.
  • I was just about to say and I really do like the way tabs works. Take at an extra steps and include web notifications on those like how Windows 10 does so you can easily be notify let's say like with Facebook. Someone leaves you a comment, it could maybe do a quick animation like maybe shake or bounce and show a 1 on it to indicate you have something important on this tab.
  • It surely is a good concept. But, if your product only have a small percentage of small market share, It won't change the industry unless some big companies make a similar concept and apply it to its popular apps.
  • Market share isn't the determination for everything. Geesh...we'd never have ANY new companies/products or revived companies/products if people running things adhered to this "if you don't currently have market share, don't try anything because you're just wasting your time"
  • This is about a browser, not an OS. Also, Opera is a huge browser, with a huge amount of users... Even then, Market share has practically no remote meaning with this. :P Some people even use multiple browsers, so saying a company shouldn't do something or there's no point to being different, just because of less market share (which I'm really confused with as Opera is a widely popular and used browser, and now they're just experimenting with a new concept in the background) isn't really a valid argument
    Also maybe it isn't that Opera are trying to "change the industry", maybe it's that they want to stand out from the crowd and be different from the ordinary browsers. I hope that they progress with this concept as it would really benefit their browser
  • It is faster than edge in terms of start up. It's very light. So Daniel y companies still prefer .exe compare to UWP app? This is a new browser why didn't they build it using UWP??
  • Because a lot of people still use Windows 7 which doesn't support UWP apps. These companies want their product to reach as many people as possible and it is a lot harder, if you make your product available only on one version of the OS
  • The question isn't why didn't they, the question is, why would they?
  • Maybe one day..when Windows 10 is the dominant OS it terms of percentage. By percentage, I mean huge percentage.
  • I think it has to do because they don't want to waste so much time on rewriting from scratch. Likely they just rebuilding web browsers based on Chromium and their internal SDKs which would be efficient for their development especially when dealing cross-platform and targeting multiple OS versions which UWP isn't. Also this is just their concept project which is like a testbed for their more crazy ideas that may be implemented in the near future on to their normal apps. UWP will be just a bottleneck to their agile development when they are aiming to target not just Windows 10. You can ask that for their regular Opera browser app on Windows phones which is the one that needs to be UWP or at least update it extensively. Someday when Windows 10 is the overly dominant Windows version and when UWP really matures, then that's the time they may moved to UWP for their Windows apps, especially if there will be more toolkits around UWP.
  • But basically its apps that open inside an app! Right?
  • Freaking awesome so far!  This is definitely a great new direction.  
  • will this site rebranding to neon-central.com ;)
  • Why should Microsoft do this for Edge? Opera is already doing it for Windows. Edge is supposed to be a revolutionary Browser. This is not revolutionary. MSFT is working on bigger and better things for. Edge
  • If I were Microsoft, I would not do this to edge. This would encourage people to use edge, which would result in companies not investing into UWP. Logic being, "this browser became so popular that people prefer to use it instead of our apps". This might be a stretch, yet W10M doesn't have a YouTube app and I am forced to use edge.
  • It doesn't have an official YouTube app. There are plenty of great YouTube apps available with probably even more devoted+active developers like MyTube and TubeCast. Would probably say watching YouTube on Edge, especially on mobile, is very difficult to do haha
  • I did not like it. first of all tabs take too much space.. the title and url of the pages are to big, smaller sized fonts would be enough ..The design and animations are awesome, but it very unpractical to use...
  • It's only a concept haha. Its not them saying "this is the future of opera", just "[Opera] want to test something and see how it looks. Could work or it might not. Who knows til we try" My opinion is the UI may be with touchscreen in mind as that's where technology is advancing to. In them terms, I'd say our current browsers are the impractical ones. A nightmare trying to use touchscreen on a browser right now.
    Guess just depends on how you look at it :) In terms of text size, the url etc are definitely too large. Hopefully that changes when they update the concept, or if it does end up on the main browser.
  • Actually, like you said, this concept may be more intuitive for touchscreen devices rather than desktop.
  • Definitely eye-candy. But would it be any more useful than browsers already out there in the wild? I'm really not sure...
  • So Opera wants to be a platform....just like Chrome. 2017: The end of the open Web?
  • As long as it doesn't become a resource hog like Chrome, who cares lol. More functionality and great design. If this ever becomes the future, I wouldn't be surprised if Opera made two separate browsers, Neon and classic (classic being our current, for anyone who doesn't like neon)
  • Its nice! Cant wait for Neon design refresh in Windows 10!
  • When maximum users of Opera are on Windows, why can't they use the Surface Book to showcase the new browser!!??!!
  • Wow.  I find I like it so far. What I don't know yet is how pop up blockers and other such add-ons work in it but in concept, I like it. It also has a touch friendly vibe about it.  Something Microsoft should seriously consider using going forward.  I simply cannot use what MS is doing for touch enabled devices. I sent a brand new Windows tablet back to the MS store because it is so functionally disjointed. 
  • Extensions are not supported, because this is just a concept build. Opera did say, however, that some of the features would make their way to their regular browser in the spring.
  • That's cool about the extensions part. On this I like how touchy feely and friendly it appears. I hope MS is taking a hard look at how will manage touch screens going forward though.  I think I've become a little bored with much of the metroIU concept especially as it relates to touch devices.
  • This looks awesome on my larger monitor. Really liking the pop-out video window for youtube, etc..
  • It's beautiful. It has a me a little disappointed that it has a bar at the top. I want it all clear, now. Some day?!
  • As far as I can see, that's the stupid OSX bar, isn't it?
  • Not as stupid as the UWAs atrocious huge and pretty useless bars.
  • Do you mean the titlebar? Or the menu bar on the Mac?
  • I want better Opera on WP 8.1 (gave up WM 10)
  • Don't hold your breath on Opera updating the app on 8.1. Since MS aren't supporting it now, big app devs are unlikely to too
  • Its very snappy. Loads websites much quicker than Edge currently does on my SP4. Wont replace edge due to syncing etc. but its refreshing seeing new ideas/layout in a browser so will keep it installed and play with it every now and then :)
  • I don't know. I think they forget that the purpose of a browser is to showcase the web page as well as possible, and not detract from it with their own UI. Screens are getting smaller overall, not larger, so this UI, while cool, is a waste of space. Also, why are they trying to create their own window manager? This means it will never really fit in with the OS. All they need to do is make those tabs real windows that the OS can manage and you get your snapping for free. I can potentially see it doing well on large screens, like MacBook / Surface Book, or even Surface Studio. It looks like it's great for touch. And at the very least I'm sure it will be inspiration for other vendors to take the good parts and put them in their own browsers.
  • True, I don't think this even has much use on my surfacebook to be honest. However, my old macbook pro this would be awesome on. Due to the complete lack of apps I found myself in a browers often. Mac also lacks a proper window maangement system. Having this on its own desktop would fill that gap rather well, so I can see a use for this on such limited systems.
  • What's not to like.  It looks innovative.  Clean.  Beautiful.  Everytime I read someone's negative comments on something new it reminds me of the commercial about "ideas". "Ideas are scary... Ideas are frightening because they threatened what is known... They are the natural born enemies of the way things are..."
  • This is certainly just a pretty concept and may need some tweaks for general usability, but I feel this can go wonderfully with Microsoft's bot implementation.
  • It's AWESOME! Visually it is. Love what they do with the tabs and their Physics Engine really deliver smooth animation in my rig. I'm currently writing this comment down using Neon. And so far its been a nice experience. Hopefully they will retain this project and update it to atleast have some necessities that a browser should have. How about you Edge???
  • i want this modern browsing experience, while i dont want to lose any of the current functionality. if that day comes with this browser, it will be the second browser switch in my life, something that not even microsoft managed to do with their Edge thing. Opera starts to get my atention really!! edit: also this made me dreaming of the day in which we all will use our w10 devices with 100% Neon design deployed, full consistent and pleasant UI...and look, this browser fits in like magic... Oh a windows user can dream :( edit2: ok im already installing it. i couldnt help myself. i usually NEVER bother to try concepts and things so far from the real thing(except for insider builds). but hey...this thing got my attention big time....
  • That looks beautiful, refreshing a s brilliant. Hope it works out for them.
  • A browser that runs in an app that runs on my desktop. Ok, I stick with Edge for now. Because my OS already can have multiple browser windows, has screenshot build in, has apps for YouTube... etc.
  • I need Edge Neon.... stability - security and much more on Edge NEON will be more welcome.....  
  • How about they fix their current browser that's still too dumb to export bookmarks after over 40 iterations instead of wasting time starting from scratch again, lacking all the fundamentals of a web browser...
  • why are you exporting bookmarks? Switching to another web browser? Yes, you are too dumb :)