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Opera ready for heavy Web work

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The “other”” web browser, Norwegian developed Opera, which has for a decade played third fiddle to Internet Explorer and whoever else is taking on Microsoft, has signalled its intentions of being taken more seriously. It has announced the beta 3 release of its latest version, Opera 10, with improvements to a compression tool that makes for faster surfing and less data use. We look at what’s new in Opera, and provide an update on Opera Unite, a new inter-browser technology.

After more than 10 million test runs and intensive user feedback, Opera 10 is now available in its third beta version from http://www.opera.com/next/. Opera Software says performance and stability were prioritized in beta 3, with improvements to Opera Turbo, a compression tool for faster surfing, and refinements to the overall look and feel of the previous Opera 10 betas.

“”For us, it is a resounding success when more than one million people try your beta and are excited enough to give us so much actionable feedback,”” said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. “”This third beta comes after a lot of careful improvements. We have never released such a solid piece of technology that not only runs seamlessly, but is so nice to look at as well. I am proud of this release, and I hope that the Web-using world will benefit from a browser that is truly ready to do some heavy lifting.””

Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software

Opera will need that kind of edge if it wishes to remain relevant in a browser world dominated by Internet Explorer and Firefox. Other also-rans, especially Safari, remain relevant – in their case due to their lock-in of Mac users. Opera’s mobile version, Opera Mini, gives it a similar differentation, but in a very fickle environment of ever-changing mobile applications.

What is new in beta 3?

Tab tweaks: Multiple Opera users who tested the previous betas shared their preferences for more visual tab options. Opera has responded in beta 3 by offering options for tab placement. Now users can view their visual thumbnail tabs on the right or left side of the screen, in addition to placement options on the top or bottom. Tabs are resizable and the thumbnail view is optional.

Eyes on the UI: Designer Jon Hicks has continued his renovation of the user interface (UI) by implementing several new tweaks designed to make using Opera even more efficient.

Multilingual: With a total of 38 languages, Opera’s beta 3 aims to make it easier for users around the world to feel more at home while online.

Crash prevention: Opera’s integrated crash logger has made beta 3 more of a solid ride.

Even more turbo: Opera Turbo has been further refined for increased speed when browsing over slow network connections.

What about Opera Unite?

Opera Unite is an inter-browser communication technology that may finally give Opera the edge it needs to take on the bigger browsers. It comprises a form of collaboration technology that allows users to share data such as files or photos with other users, directly from their computers. They can also communicate directly with others by hosting chat sessions or posting notes. The technology behind Opera Unite uses a compact server inside the Opera desktop browser to share data and services. With Opera Unite, you don’t upload content you want to share: you share the content directly from your computer rather than loading it and sharing it through a third-party server. Did someone say file-sharing?

Opera recently released an alpha preview of Opera Unite (http://www.opera.com/press/releases/2009/06/16/). Opera Unite will not be included in the beta 3 of Opera 10 as it remains in its alpha development stage. Opera Softwre says it continues working on it and will release the beta version of Opera Unite as soon as possible.

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