Opera Mini to nurse Microsoft’s feature phones through their dying days

Nokia Asha 501

Opera has inked another deal with Microsoft – after Opera’s full-fat mobile product became the default browser on the Nokia X2 Android handset, Opera Mini will now be the default on Microsoft’s feature phones on the Asha, Series 30+ and Series 40 platforms.

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a slightly limiting factor in all this: Microsoft is killing off almost all of these devices — though extremely low-end Series 30+ devices like the newly launched Nokia 130 may survive awhile longer — in a push to take Windows Phone toward the bottom of the market.

But it will be a slow death, over the next year and a half or so, and Opera will be there for their twilight, gently shoving the currently default Xpress Browser to the side.

“Users will begin to receive notifications on their phone starting October 2014, providing them with information on how to upgrade from Xpress Browser to Opera Mini,” an Opera spokesman told me by email. “The precise dates when these notifications will arrive will vary by product family. We intend to fully support people during the full transition period from October 2014 to December 2015.”

Newly produced Microsoft feature phones will have Opera Mini preinstalled, and the Xpress browser will “enter maintenance mode until December 2015 when the service will be fully ramped down,” he added. So much for Microsoft telling me in June that, when it comes to the Asha line, Xpress is “the best browser for the right job.”

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