Opera has become the first browser maker to ship a mainstream desktop internet browser that includes an unlimited VPN service baked-in.
You may recall that Opera put a VPN inside its browser earlier this year in April — before then rolling it out on its iOS and Android — but that was for the developer version only. With today’s update — Opera 40 — the Norwegian company is bringing the privacy and security benefits of a VPN to all of the users of its desktop browser.
That’s pretty powerful. Opera claims 350 million users across its products, but it isn’t clear exactly how any use each one. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that with this update it and its advances on mobile, it is bringing VPN browsing to millions who might never have heard of or used it otherwise.
“We strongly believe that if more people knew how the internet truly works, they would use a VPN — and we hope that by making our browser VPN free and easy to use, it will become an essential tool for everyone,” Krystian Kolondra, head of consumer products at Opera, wrote in a blog post.
The VPN inside Opera for desktop is notable for being unlimited — that’s to say that it is free but not restricted on time, such as services like TunnelBear — but there’s one catch: it only allows five different locations, unlike standalone browsers which offer locations in most countries worldwide.
Another notable addition to Opera 40 is support for Google’s Chromecast streaming dongle, which might have deterred some Chrome fans from making the switch to Opera.
This could be one of the last major releases that Opera gives to its desktop browser before it changes hands. The company negotiated a deal with a Chinese consortium that will see its browsers, privacy apps and a Chinese joint-venture transferred to a group that includes anti-virus firm Qihoo 360 for $600 million. An original deal to acquire Opera in its entirety for $1.2 billion fell through.