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A browser for people who think Chrome is for dummies

Vivaldi 1.0, from the creators of Opera, is crammed with options for those of you who want to break out of the confines of ordinary browsers.

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Vivaldi is aimed at people who want a full-featured Web browser.

Vivaldi

Ever since Google launched Chrome in 2008, Web browsers embraced spartan interfaces that stripped out toolbars, menus and anything else that got in the way of viewing a website.

Simplicity is swell. But Tuesday night, a new browser arrived from Oslo, Norway, that caters to power users who don't want to see everything pared away.

Vivaldi 1.0 is stuffed with options to get the browser working just as you like, even as it tries to preserve a tidy interface. Vivaldi programmers will respond fast to new feature requests, said Jon von Tetzchner, Vivaldi's chief executive and a co-founder of Opera Software, one of the earliest browser makers.

"If a person is asking for it, we will bend over backwards to put it in there," said von Tetzchner, who hired most of his staff from now-rival Opera, also based in Oslo.

It's a great time to be a browser user. Chrome dominates, but it's mostly open-source software that anyone can use for free. That's just what Opera, Yandex, Brave, Baidu and Vivaldi have done to try to lure new users -- in Vivaldi's case, with its full-featured approach.

Some Vivaldi abilities:

  • Position tabs on top, bottom, left or right.
  • Tidy up tabs into groups called tab stacks.
  • Save groups of tabs you'll need again as a session.
  • Use keyboard commands in the address bar to pick a particular search engine. Type "d panama papers" to search at Duck Duck Go, for example.
  • Fine-tune Vivaldi with its own options or use almost any Chrome extension for further customization.

Vivaldi is for Windows, OS X and Linux computers, but the 35-employee company plans a mobile version, too, von Tetzchner said.

That will be important since phones are a major part of life online. On phones, we tend to use special-purpose apps, not Web browsers, to check Facebook or play Monument Valley. Von Tetzchner hopes browsers will see a renaissance, with programmers writing more apps that run inside browsers.

"There's a reason why we moved away from apps onto the Web," he said. "Reversing that is not anything we'd like."