Norwegian software vendor Opera Software ASA on Tuesday released the beta version of its Opera Web browser for Linux.
The announcement comes several weeks after Opera announced the release of the beta of Opera 8 for Windows. Both versions of the popular alternative Web browser come with usability improvements such as fit to window width, fit to paper width, and an improved RSS (Really Simple Syndication) client. The browser also boasts a new, easier-to-use user interface.
Operas improvements have not just been on the surface.
"A browser is much more than what meets the eye, and to maximize speed, security and page handling, Operas core and supporting code has undergone dramatic improvements based on the strict efficiency requirements brought in from the mobile phone market where Opera is a leading player," Christen Krogh, vice president of engineering at Opera, said in a statement.
Opera plans to make its newest browser generally available in 2005, but it has not revealed the name for its newest version.
"We were preparing for the 7.60 release, but as work progressed and we kept adding improvements and functionality, it became very evident that we now have a browser that is so powerful, secure and easy to use that it exceeds the next logical version number and warrants a major release," Jon S. von Tetzchner, Operas CEO, said in a statement.
The market share of Web browser market leader Internet Explorer has been declining due to both the growing popularity of open-source browser Firefox and a series of Internet Explorer security problems.
Web analytics company WebSideStory Inc.s most recent report, covering November 2004, showed that Opera probably also has gained market share.
WebSideStorys data divides the alternative browsers into three categories: the Firefox browser; Netscape and Mozilla browsers; and a catch-all for other browsers, which includes Opera. Firefox now has 4.06 percent of the market, and Netscape/Mozilla has 2.83 percent, while the category that includes Operas browser has risen to 1.25 percent.
Users with currently licensed copies of Opera 7 will receive free upgrades. The beta version of Operas newest Linux browser is available as a free download here.
The beta is also available for Windows, FreeBSD and Solaris for SPARC. The final version of the browser is scheduled for release in early 2005.
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