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Opera dangles free browser in front of universities

$1 was too much

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Looking to impress impressionable minds, Opera today decided to give up on trying to charge universities for its browser and will now hand out site licenses for free.

The Norwegian software maker used to charge just $1 per copy of its browser for volume university purchases. That policy has been chucked in favor of a pure giveaway model. Opera bills its browser as the smarter, more secure choice for schools and hopes to turn youngsters into lifelong users of its software.

MIT, Harvard and Oxford "have already made Opera available to their student community," the company said.

Opera is really the only serious browser player that charges for its product, making the university less than impressive. Paying for the company's browser removes small advertisements displayed near the top of the browser window.

This strategy - to give youth a taste for free - is a decent idea. Opera's tools such as mouse gestures and sophisticated session savers prove to be quite addictive to numerous users.

Just ask Ashish Kumar, a Journalism major at Iowa State University, who Opera oddly placed in a press release announcing its free browser move.

"Opera saved me this semester," Kumar said. "With a heavy classload requiring extensive research, Opera served as a flexible and helpful Internet tool."

We're just talking about a browser here, right? ®

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