Opera BrowserThat happened a lot sooner than I expected: With today’s release of Opera 8.5, the desktop web browser is now free. That’s no cost to register, no ads in the browser—100% free (as in beer).

Now we know the “new business model” they were hinting at. Reportedly they have a new deal with Google for search revenue and marketing. Edit: Opera’s Haarvard provides more info.

Aside from removing the ads, the change log shows mainly bug fixes, though they have turned on Browser JavaScript, a previously experimental feature that fixes some broken websites on the fly. I suspect without the business model change, this would have been 8.1 or 8.03. Edit: Tim Altman describes what’s in store for Opera 9.

Now that Opera and Firefox are both entirely-free downloads, the browser wars are about to get really interesting!

(via WaSP Buzz)

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