Opera previews next version of desktop browser

Opera Software is giving developers and users an early look at its Opera 10 browser.

Opera Software is giving developers and users an early look at its Opera 10 browser, which features a new version of its rendering engine that the company says offers 30 percent improvement in the speed of loading Web pages.

An alpha version of Opera 10 is available online. The rendering engine, called Opera Presto 2.2, is the foundation of all of Opera's browsers, including the popular Opera Mobile. It also runs on the server that powers the Opera Mini, Opera's thin-client browser that is used on cell phones.

Jan Standal, director of consumer product management and developer relations at Opera, said better loading speed and support for Web standards are the key design goals for Opera 10's release.

Standal noted that the alpha of Opera 10 released Thursday received a perfect 100 test score on the Acid3 test, which is the standard test from the Web Standards Project that gauges how well a browser follows generally accepted standards -- such as Javascript, Document Object Model and Cascading Style Sheets -- for Web pages. In the Acid3 test, a browser is expected to render a page a certain way.

Support for Web Font, a technology that allows a Web developer to specify any font that's available on the Internet rather than depend on ones available locally, also is available in the alpha release of Opera 10 as part of the Presto 2.2 software, Standal said.

Opera expects to release a beta of Opera 10 in early 2009 and a full version of the browser before midyear, he said.

While Opera's desktop browser has only a very small market share in the U.S., the software is more popular with users in Europe and Asia.

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