Macs Popularity Draws Opera, Real Software

The latest version of the Opera browser is set to challenge Safari, while Real reaches for Tiger's desktop search Spotlight with a new plug-in.

Opera Software has released Opera 8 for Macintosh, with more extensive functionality and security features.

This latest version is faster than previous iterations, according to the software company, since it requires minimal system resources. Like its Opera 8 for Windows and Linux, released in April, Opera Software ASAs version for Macs has new security functions, such as a field that indicates the security level and certificate owner of a secure site.

Specific to the Mac version is improved support for Apples Human Interface Guidelines, which are used by designers to control the overall appearance and behavior of Mac OS X.

Opera chose to focus more intently on Macs in this version, the browser maker said, because it sees the number of users increasing for OS X and wanted to deliver a browser that would make an attractive alternative to Apples Safari browser.

"Weve seen the increasing importance of Mac, which is why weve had a Mac version since 2001," said Berit Hanson, spokesperson for Opera. "We think adoption is going to keep growing as well. Thats what led to this release of our most Macintosh-like version ever."

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about innovations in the latest version of the Opera browser.

Whether Operas efforts will yield more adoption by Mac users remains to be seen. Currently, Opera has less than 1 percent of the browser market on Macs, according to analytics firm WebSideStory Inc.

However, even a small bump in adoption could be good news for Opera, said WebSideStory analyst Geoff Johnston.

"People are too dismissive of browsers like Opera, just because theyre not capturing 10 percent of the market or more," he said. "What they dont realize is that the market is gargantuan, which means that it doesnt take much of the pie for Opera to thrive."

Another company that is tweaking its products for OS X is Real Software Inc., which this week unveiled the RealBasic plug-in for Spotlight, the desktop search technology built into the latest Mac operating system, Tiger.

The plug-in gives Spotlight the ability to search RealBasic source code directly. If such a search is launched without the plug-in, the system would find the same information, but because it would search through drives, e-mails and documents, it would take a longer time to complete the task.

"This brings our user interface into the Tiger age," said Geoff Perlman, president and chief executive of Real.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Spotlight, the desktop search function in Mac OS X.

The company decided to make more utilities for its Mac-based customers because it has been noticing a shift in adoption of RealBasic, its flagship software design product, Perlman said.

"Because we make RealBasic cross-platform, we see customers switching from Windows to Mac because they can take their custom databases with them," Perlman said. "The plug-in is a way to keep up with our customers and let them take full advantage of Tigers capability."

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