Opera BrowserIt’s here, it’s free, it passes Acid2, it has widgets and BitTorrent, and it should take care of a lot of those nagging incompatibilities with rich text and AJAX. It’s Opera 9, currently the web’s #4 browser*.

I’ve been following the weeklies since beta 2, and I’m really impressed. Where Opera has been ahead of the competition, it’s stayed ahead, and where it’s been behind, it’s caught up. It’ll be interesting to see a serious showdown between Firefox 1.5 and Opera 9.

So far there are only two things I don’t like about it. I still have problems getting it to handle cookies the way I want it to, even with the new site-specific preferences. It looks like I should be able to tell it to delete all new cookies when closing except for particular sites, which I do in Firefox, but I still have to use the workaround from Opera 8 where I disable the setting, visit the site to get the “remember my login” cookie, close the browser, then re-enable it.

The second is that Opera has imitated Microsoft’s workaround for the Eolas patent, requiring you to click on plugin content (including Flash, Java, etc.) before you can interact with it. No word yet on whether Eolas has actually gone after Opera, but I can certainly see that, since even Microsoft’s deep pockets lost the case, Opera wouldn’t want to take any chances.

There’s a big launch party in Seattle later this morning.

Update: Arve Bersvendsen has posted a nice overview of what’s new for those who would rather not dig through the changelogs.

*Well, #5 if you separate Firefox from Netscape.

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