Opera IconAfter a long wait, Opera 10 is out! So what’s new in this first double-digit web browser?


The biggest new feature is Opera Turbo, which can massively speed up web access on a slow network connection. Turbo takes the compression used for Opera Mini, which has to deal with slow cell phone networks, and brings it to the desktop. On fast connections you won’t need the proxy, but if you’re stuck on dial-up or sharing a busy network, it can help immensely.

I definitely could have used it on the painfully slow hotel wi-fi during Comic-Con!

Turbo can be turned on and off through the status bar, or set to auto-detect your network speed and switch on when it would help, and off when it’s not needed.


Even without Turbo, Opera 10 is a heck of a lot faster than Opera 9 was! The app itself is a lot snappier, it displays pages faster, and it responds quickly. Opera feels lighter than Firefox again, after the (comparatively) clunky 9.x series.

Web Fonts

Opera’s CEO CTO recommended embedding TrueType fonts with CSS in 2007, but Safari was the first web browser to support it in a non-beta release. Now Firefox, Safari and Opera can all download fonts as-needed. That means websites can use fonts that aren’t already installed on your computer.

Until now, if a designer wanted to use a font other than one of the standard fonts that come pre-installed with Windows or Mac OS, they had to save the text as an image. That’s fine for banners and the like, but a pain for anything that changes regularly…like headlines or content.

You can read more about web fonts at Mozilla Hacks, and see them in action at Speed Force (font write-up).

Site Compatibility & Features

Website compatibility has improved a lot, and Opera has continued to add support for newer technologies. It’s great to see Opera, Chrome, Safari and Firefox all working toward the next generation of the web. (If only Internet Explorer were along for the ride – at least IE8 has finally caught up with the last generation.)


Opera has had on-demand spell checking for a while, though on Windows you had to install a separate dictionary. Now it’s built-in, and it’ll underline misspelled words as you type. (Downside: it underlines inside HTML code. I don’t really want to add “href,” “li,” and so forth to my dictionary.)

Unite Postponed

One thing Opera 10 doesn’t have that was introduced in the betas preview snapshots is Opera Unite, which lets you set up a presence on your computer that other people can see for file sharing, social networking, etc. Apparently they decided it needed more work and didn’t want to hold up the release.

But Wait, There’s More!

Some other new features:

  • Visual tabs: Stretch out the tab bar and see a thumbnail of each page you have open.
  • New e-mail client, including the long-requested ability to compose with formatting.
  • Automatic update.
  • Customize Speed Dial.
  • Web apps integration with web-based email and feed readers.
  • Improved developer tools (Dragonfly).
  • Opera Link: synchronize bookmarks, history, notes, etc. across multiple computers and phones. (Not new, but I think it syncs more types of data than it used to)

And a lot more.

As a reminder: Opera is free (as in beer). It has been for almost 4 years now, but it’s worth repeating because every once in a while you see someone who thinks it’s still pay or ad-based software.

Opera Software has just released the first preview of Opera 9.5, code-named Kestrel.* It’s still a long way off from a beta, but the weekly previews should satisfy both web developers and fans of the Opera web browser.

In addition to Opera’s own page, Cybernet News has posted a run-down of new features. Improved compatibility with existing websites is, as always, at the top of the list. There are reportedly improvements in support for rich-text forms. Coupled with Opera’s outreach to libraries like FCKEditor, we should see more of these forms working in Opera soon.

Synchronizing bookmarks and cookies is nice, but what I really want is something that will not only keep multiple installations of Opera in sync, but will also keep that list in sync with Firefox and Safari.

The full-history search is going to be really nice once I’ve done some new surfing. I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted to bring up a page but couldn’t remember the name of the site, or needed to find a particular page on a site that gives every single page the same title. It doesn’t seem to be able to find anything from before I upgraded (yeah, I’m living dangerously, upgrading to an alpha), so it must index sites as you visit them, rather than converting the existing cache.

As a web developer, I’m most interested in the improvements to the rendering engine. David Storey posted a summary of new CSS features a few days back, and the changelog has a detailed—and fascinatingly long!—list of all the new and updated capabilities. I’m thrilled to finally have text-shadow in more than just WebKit, but was really hoping for border-radius and box-shadow support. (I’ve been having fun with the Safari 3 betas.) I should be more excited by the improved CSS selectors** support, but until Firefox or Safari implements the rest of them, we’ll still be stuck with the more broadly-supported subset. (Fortunately it looks like, as Konqueror switches from KHTML to WebKit, they’ll be merging KHTML’s capabilities into WebKit. That will give us full support in 2 of 4 major browser engines.)

Opera Mini - The free Web browser for nearly any phoneOpera is also gearing up a new version of Opera Mini, the free browser for cell phones, having just released a beta of version 4. I keep meaning to check and see what data plan I need to be able to use it, because the built-in browser on my RAZR V3T is…extremely limited. There was a brief period last year in which T-Mobile let everyone use networked applications, and even Opera Mini 2 was leaps and bounds ahead of the Motorola browser.

Between Opera Mini and Safari on the iPhone, the mobile web seems to be really opening up in a way that people were scoffing at just a year ago.

*The name Kestrel always makes me think of Queen of Wands these days, which is better than always making me think of the Hawk & Dove villain.

**Current CSS Selectors support out of 43 selectors:
IE6: 10 + 1 partial
IE7: 13 + 4
Opera 9.23: 25 + 3
Safari 3 beta: 25 + 9
Firefox 2: 26 + 10
Firefox 3 alpha: 32 + 4
Konqueror 3.57: 43
Opera 9.5 alpha: 43

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.

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)

Opera BrowserWell, Opera 8 is out, and their website is swamped so badly they replaced their home page with a stripped-down version pointing to download sites. That’s a first.

Unfortunately I can’t get the Linux download link to get me anywhere except back to the splash page, so I’ve only managed to grab the Windows version so far.

I used to be a big fan of Opera back in the days when Mozilla was still in beta, Netscape was obsolete, and IE was… well, a security hole waiting to happen and the dominant browser as a result of monopoly abuse instead of just making a better product. But then two things happened: Mozilla got a lot better, and Opera started to get bloated. And by bloated I don’t mean in code size, I mean in user interface. It was so cluttered that after a while it was just a pain to use.

I still buy new versions as needed (The reg code for 7.x seems to work fine on 8.0. Whoops—I installed over the beta and it showed as still registered. I entered the reg code for the wrong version—the code for 7.x does work on 8.0), and I’ve got active licenses on both Windows and Linux. But in the last few years I’ve mainly used it for testing (compatibility, small-screen rendering, etc.) and for keeping multiple accounts logged into the same website.

The 8.0 betas have been very nice, though. With all the extra toolbars hidden, I can just use the web. This is one of their selling points: their press release is titled “Speed, Security and Simplicity,” and states “The default UI design is cleaner, more intuitive and allows for easy navigation.”

I don’t think it’ll get me to switch from Firefox just yet, but I may find myself using it more often. And while it’s nice that I don’t have to pay for the upgrade, I wouldn’t mind it if I did. And I certainly don’t mind paying for the upgrade. And while it’s nice that I don’t have to pay for the upgrade, I wouldn’t mind it if I did.