Opera 9 Browser Enters Public Beta

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The Oslo-based software company moved version 9 of its freely available browser into public beta after receiving feedback on its two prior technology preview releases of Opera 9.

Opera 9 Beta arrived with web applications, native BitTorrent support, and content blocking along with other new features for users of their browser.

Deals with Google and other companies provided a revenue stream to Opera Software that allowed them to make the browser available to users for free last year. That is still true today, and version 9 is available for multiple platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris.

“Opera 9 brings powerful new features to enhance the Web browsing experience and empower Web 2.0 developers. Opera 9 unlocks new levels of productivity for the Internet ecosystem,” said Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software.

Opera listed several of the main new features in a statement:

– Widgets – Small Web applications (multimedia, newsfeeds, games and more) that make your desktop experience more fun. Any Web developer can create their own Widgets and share them, regardless of operating system. Try the Widgets in Opera 9 by pressing F6. Look for further development of Opera Widgets in future releases.
– BitTorrent – Instead of having to use a separate BitTorrent application for downloading large files, users can now simply click a torrent file and start the download
– Content blocker – Choose the content you want to view. Remove ads or images – it is up to you. Right-click on the Web page and choose “Block content”
– Improved rich text editing – Take advantage of rich text editing capabilities when using the latest Web mail or blogging services
– Customize your search engines – Use your favorite search engine in the search box. Right-click on the site’s search field and select “Create search” from the menu
– Thumbnail preview – It’s easy to have many tabs open at once in Opera. But exactly which tab had that video you wanted? Hover any tab to see a thumbnail preview
– Site-specific preferences – Do you need to view a site in a different way or deny certain cookies? Want to block pop-ups on certain sites only? Site specific preferences hold the key

Content blocking for ads and other unwanted content has been one of the most popular features available by extension for the Firefox browser. Opera supports this function natively in version 9.

One area where Opera and Firefox users both benefit has been security, and that has been the reason for many people to switch from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to other options on the Windows platform. Firefox holds around 10 percent of the global browser market share, with IE at about 86 percent, so Opera and other browser choices are not on nearly as many desktops.

That has provided some “security by obscurity” for Opera users. Like the Macintosh computer, virus writers and other cretins have not targeted Opera in the ways they have IE.

Opera has been responsive on security issues, and the Secunia advisory tracking site shows a scant 13 advisories, all patched, for the Opera browser since 2003. 12 of the 13 occurred in 2005, and one in 2004. Compare that to Microsoft, which patched ten flaws in IE just in the month of April 2006.

Before downloading Opera 9 Beta to test, the company noted that it is still beta software. Users should keep that in mind and backup important data as a precaution. Also, there are some websites that crop up on occasion that do not support Opera.

Those have been very few in this writer’s experience, and the ability to chuckle at IE security issues when they arise has been a pleasant side effect of using Opera.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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