Opera Mobile 9.7 Beta Browser Available for Windows Mobile Smartphones

Opera Software has released Opera Mobile 9.7 beta, the newest version of its Web browser for Windows Mobile-equipped smartphones, with features designed to boost its speed with processor-intensive pages such as Facebook and Gmail. Although its mobile browser is ranked first in usage, the primary Opera browser ranks well behind Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome in market share, according to some analysts.

Opera Mobile 9.7 beta, a version of the Opera browser designed for Windows Mobile-equipped smartphones, went live on June 8, with upgrades designed to help it compete in an ever-fiercer mobile arena.

The performance boosts come courtesy of Opera Turbo, a newly developed technology that utilizes compression algorithms to accelerate browser speed, and the upgraded Opera Presto 2.2 browser engine, designed to speed page loads and overall performance.

Opera Software claims that Opera Turbo, by speeding up data transfer, will "reduce the amount of data that needs to be downloaded by up to 80 percent." In the same vein, the company claims that Opera Presto 2.2's rendering engine will display Web pages some 25 percent faster on the user's smartphone.

The new software also includes an add-on Opera Widgets manager, which allows Opera users to include pre-installed widgets such as GeoQuiz, Twitter, Bubbles, MyStatus, and Google Translate.

According to Web analytics firm StatCounter, Opera stands as the most-used browser for smartphones, with 24.6 percent of the market, narrowly edging out Apple's Safari browser for iPhone with 22.3 percent. However, if both the iPhone and iPod Touch are included, Safari wins with a 37.2 percent share.

According to Reuters, Opera is currently third in the overall browser wars, behind Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Google's launch of its own Internet browser, Chrome, in 2008 also heated up competition.

An April 2009 survey by Forrester found that Opera's position among browsers was even more tenuous, falling behind Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.

In addition to the beta of its mobile browser, Opera Software also released the first test version of its newest regular Web browser, Opera 10, in June 2009. The company has promised that Opera 10 will speed up the user's Web browsing experience by 40 percent from the previous versions, particularly on pages such as Facebook that demand a fair amount of processing power.