Opera Unite: Your Browser Is Now A Full-Featured Server

A marginal player in the desktop browser field, Opera has done something pretty wild with the next version of their software: they've turn it into a zero-config server for files, music, photos and websites.

The concept is somewhere between a personal web server and a filesharing application, technologically and conceptually. The interface is straighforward, divided into panels for each service that you choose to "host." All of them behave in the same stupid-simple way: you start a service, whether it be photo sharing, music streaming, web hosting or straight file sharing, select a shared directory, set your privacy preferences and go.

Even at this early stage, there's a lot of hosted content to explore, including lots of publicly streamable music, which will almost certainly cause Opera problems even though, strictly speaking, they're not actually doing the hosting or streaming. There's no video service for now, but Unite is extensible, meaning that anyone can design a plugin to add to the program's default file-serving capabilities.

Opera is proud of the fact that Unite runs against the tide of most new web services, opting for client-side content hosting over cloud-based solutions—so proud, in fact, that they're able to repeatedly, straight-facedly describe Unite as a "Web 5.0" product, which is a bit rich considering it is just a collection of services that have been available for years, albeit never in such a simple or consolidated way. As a convenient tool for sharing large amounts of content, I see it. As a game-changer? I'm not sure.

A technical preview of Opera Unite is available for download here. [Opera]