Opera promises faster surfing with new browser

Company promises speed, an improved email client, and better browser-synchronisation capabilities in latest version.

Opera Software, which is battling hard for market share with Google's Chrome, is promising users a faster surfing experience, an improved email client, and better browser-synchronisation capabilities, with the latest version of its browser launched last week.

The Norwegian developer says that Opera 9.6 contains an expanded Opera Link. This means that users can more easily use their personal browsing identities on any computer. Essentially, it synchronizes a user's browser history, bookmarks and personal bar.

Opera has also tweaked its built-in email client, Opera Mail, with a feature designed for users stuck with a slow broadband connection. The email client's "low-bandwidth mode" allows users to retrieve mails faster when bandwidth is limited. Opera Mail also contains a new feature that will help users swamped with email overload, as the email client now has two new ways to prioritize emails, so that users can easily (with a single click apparently), track important threads, and ignore less important ones.

"Our improved email client is now the ideal communication tool," said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, in a statement. "Opera Link gives you more flexibility to take your personal browsing identity with you to any computer."

Opera is also claiming increased speed for the new browser, with "improved responsiveness and page loading" compared to Opera 9.5.

Another feature is the ability to see an RSS feed's content before subscribing to it or even bookmarking it. Opera says it gives users "a clean, multi-column preview for each RSS feed", so users know what to expect before you subscribe.

Finally, Opera 9.6 is now available in more than 38 languages after adding support for Indonesian, Ukrainian, Estonian, Hindi, Telugu, and Tamil languages.

According to web metrics firm Net Applications, Opera is scrapping against the new boy on the block, namely Google's Chrome, for market share. September's figures showed that Microsoft's Internet Explorer still dominates the browser market with 71.5 percent, while Mozilla's Firefox accounted for 19.5 percent, followed by Apple's Safari on 6.7 percent.

Google's Chrome share stabilized at about 0.7 percent, just slightly more than Opera's flagship, which had previously held down the number 4 spot, behind IE, Firefox and Safari.

Opera 9.6 is available for download here, free of charge, with versions available for computers running Linux, Mac and Windows.

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Tom Jowitt

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