Browser lovers, sing out loud!

GCN Insider | TRENDS & TECHNOLOGIES that affect the way government does IT

You probably don't use it, or even think about it much (and based on internal metrics of GCN.com visitors, we know that's true), but that other Web browser continues to evolve. Opera Software ASA of Oslo, Norway, last month launched a new version of its free Opera 9 browser. CEO Jon von Tetzchner said the company worked hard to increase performance and integrate the latest Web standards. Opera 9 now includes widgets (a la the applets popularized by Apple), which are small Web programs that provide new ways to access and share information. The platform also has integrated support for BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file-sharing protocol. Although BitTorrent is primarily associated with media sharing, we suspect enterprises could find innovative uses for the technology in the way it distributes files by breaking them down into smaller, bandwidth-friendly parts.

Opera has long included tabbed browsing. Its version of the popular feature is particularly useful because the browser offers thumbnail previews of tabbed windows'just hover the cursor over a tab to see what's on that page. And the software has its own trash can so, for instance, if you want to retrieve a tabbed window you closed'or, God forbid, a pop-up window'you can fish it out. Opera 9 also now has a security bar to help root out online scourges such as phishing scams, and it supports 256-bit encryption. We especially like Opera's use of mouse gestures. For example, hold down the right mouse button and move the mouse slightly to the left and you'll automatically go to the previous page in your browser history. And for the individualists out there, Opera 9 can be configured with one of many 'skins' that customize the browser's look.

'Even though we shaped this browser for the Web's future, we have the powerful features people want and need for their surfing today,' von Tetzchner said. Opera 9 is available for Windows, Mac and Linux in more than 25 languages, according to the company. You can download it at www.opera.com.

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