Unfortunately, many web page designers don't recognise the existence of any browser except Internet Explorer and Netscape. They may set up fancy pages for the users of these two browsers and a plain text page (or nothing at all) for everyone else. They just don't realize that Opera is just about as powerful as the latest versions of Netscape and IE but with a much smaller (and hence faster loading) program.
The people at Opera realized this and set up Opera so that you can have it identify itself as one of the other browsers. You can set it to always report itself this way but that has the problem that pages that record browser stats record your visit as using the wrong browser and Opera doesn't show as having anywhere near the following that it really has. The better way is to set Opera to report itself as Opera and dynamically change the identifier just for those web pages too stupid to recognise that Opera is one of the most powerful browsers.
If you come across a Web site that will not let you access its content or which displays a plain text page (and you suspect that IE and Netscape visitors get a much fancier page), try pressing F12 and you will get a pop up menu. At the bottom of this menu you will see a number of different browser identifiers listed that you can choose between to select the browser that you want Opera to identify itself as. You can choose between "Opera", "MSIE 5" (Internet Explorer), or "Mozilla" (Netscape). Once you have done this, reload the page by pressing F5.
Opera can handle most of the same functionality as the latest versions of both IE and Netscape so it shouldn't really matter which of those that you choose. The webmaster may have included different processing for each so you might try the different alternatives one after the other to see what you get.
Don't forget to switch your identifier back to Opera afterwards so that your browser can be correctly identified by pages recording browser stats. This will help encourage webmasters to add support for Opera into their scripts.
This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.