Opera Releases Opera Mini 4.2 Beta, Chides Microsoft

Opera Software releases a beta of Opera Mini 4.2, the next version of the company's browser for mobile devices. The Opera Mini browser is the most popular browser for mobile devices and smart phones, Opera says. Meanwhile, Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner calls on Microsoft to beef up its Web standards support in Internet Explorer.

Opera Software has released a preview of Opera Mini 4.2, the newest version of the company's mobile Web browser, which works on almost every mobile phone, the company said.

With this beta release, Opera celebrates Opera Mini being the browser of choice for more than 20 million unique monthly users worldwide, the company said. As part of the celebration, Opera Mini users in the United States and Asia-Pacific region can now experience faster browsing speeds, due to the addition of an Opera Mini server park in the United States, Opera officials said.

Opera Mini is available to download for beta testing here.

"The number of people using Opera Mini worldwide proves that there is a true revolution going on: People want to access all their favorite Web sites on the mobile phone they have today," Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner said in a statement. "We constantly focus on developing a faster and more personal browsing experience. Opera Mini 4.2 Beta is an update that takes mobile Web browsing to the next level."

Company officials said Opera Mini 4.2 Beta provides a more personalized experience with its selection of new skins and improved support for YouTube and other mobile video services on a wider selection of mobile phones. Improvements in Opera Link allow users to share notes between their mobile phones and PCs, in addition to their bookmarks and recently visited URLs, the company said.

"Opera Mini is a mobile application to be reckoned with," Yankee Group Vice President John Jackson said in a statement. "We have witnessed a 10 percent average growth in the number of Opera Mini users worldwide every month, with every indication that the trend will continue. As the browser keeps improving in speed and functionality and end-user awareness expands, Opera Mini's popularity [among] users worldwide should continue to grow."

In an interview with eWEEK at the Symbian Smartphone Show in London in October, von Tetzchner said the Opera Mini browser is the world's No. 1. "We are the leading mobile browser and there are about 25 million to 30 million users of our desktop browser across the world," he said.

Meanwhile, von Tetzchner said Symbian is a very important platform for Opera, because "we offer being able to access the Web from everything."

Moreover, von Tetzchner said Opera is making developers' lives easier by providing what is basically a unified code base for different devices, and also providing debugging and development tools for developers.

He also chided Microsoft for its standards support, or lack thereof, in the Internet Explorer browser. Although he acknowledged that Microsoft has gotten better at adhering to Web standards, "for years Microsoft wasn't acting. However, the Web standards are developing again and, hopefully, Microsoft is moving in the right direction. We have to make sure Microsoft adheres to Web standards. The browser contest has become one of seeing who has the best standards support."

In addition, von Tetzchner said Opera is able to innovate because "what we do is we only focus on browsers, so we are very focused on the end user. We are a company that focuses on one thing and that leads us to innovate."