I think one of the biggest issues facing Opera is lack of exposure to the average user. Most techy people will know of it, some may use it, but Opera really isn't getting exposure to the masses. If we look a Chrome for example Google have invested heavily on advertising (granted a lot of that has been on their own web properties) but they are seeing results.
I think Opera needs to really push its advertising towards social media. Where the average end user spends a lot of time. Make them aware of Opera and what it is. Then when it comes to getting a new machine and they are faced with the browser ballot they will at least have heard of Opera, know what it is and perhaps be willing to give it a try.
Personally I don't see the need to make it look and feel any more like the existing browsers out there. Even users who move from IE to Firefox will experience a difference. Some people will like it right away, others will spend time getting used to it. But the people who like it, it works for them. Keep them happy. There is no point trying to please everyone, just work on pleasing users who actual like your product.