- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2006

Webbies of the world, rejoice — there’s a new Beta of the popular (and now totally free) Opera browser:

Opera Software today announced the first public Beta of Opera 9. This version includes Widgets, small Web programs running in their own windows that are fun, easy-to-use and live on users’ desktops. The Opera 9 Beta also features support for BitTorrent, a popular file downloading technology, in addition to an easy-to-use content blocker and thumbnail previews of tabbed sites.

New features in Opera 9 include:

- Widgets - Small Web applications (multimedia, newsfeeds, games and more) that make your desktop experience more fun. Any Web developer can create their own Widgets and share them, regardless of operating system. Try the Widgets in Opera 9 by pressing F6. Look for further development of Opera Widgets in future releases.

- BitTorrent - Instead of having to use a separate BitTorrent application for downloading large files, users can now simply click a torrent file and start the download

- Content blocker - Choose the content you want to view. Remove ads or images - it is up to you. Right-click on the Web page and choose “Block content”

- Improved rich text editing - Take advantage of rich text editing capabilities when using the latest Web mail or blogging services

- Customize your search engines - Use your favorite search engine in the search box. Right-click on the site’s search field and select “Create search” from the menu

- Thumbnail preview - It’s easy to have many tabs open at once in Opera. But exactly which tab had that video you wanted? Hover any tab to see a thumbnail preview

- Site-specific preferences - Do you need to view a site in a different way or deny certain cookies? Want to block pop-ups on certain sites only? Site specific preferences hold the key

For a complete list of features, view the changelog

Learn more about Widgets here

Start creating your own Widgets here

Availability

Opera 9 Beta is available for download here

Note

Opera 9 Beta is not a final version and may contain bugs. Use it only on properly backed-up computers.

That about tells the story. I’ve been playing with the Beta on a Mac and, yes, it’s a tad crash-prone. But the features are promising and I like the way they handle “widgets,” in a tab that drops down from the menu bar, which is mighty handy.

On Windows or Mac or, I guess, Linux, this is something worth checking out.

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