Opera is still not a household name like Internet Explorer or Firefox however the beta 1 release of the Opera 9 browser is much more innovative than Firefox 1.5 or the latest release of IE7.
Since November 2005, the current version, Opera has been free to download.
There are tons of features in Opera which can put both IE and Firefox to shame. There’s a streamlined e-mail client with built-in Bayesian spam protection and with “filters” instead of “folders”, so an e-mail could be in two folders at the same time if it meets both of their search criteria.
Upon installation, Opera 9 beta 1 offers to import your current favourites from Netscape, Firefox, Internet Explorer and previous versions of Opera. You can also import your current Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds and mail from previous versions of Opera.
The basic interface differs little from that of other Internet browsers, although we miss the Favourites side panel in IE and the new Places side panel in Firefox 2 Alpha 1; instead, Opera uses a drop-down menu to display your bookmarks and opens a new tab to display your history. It also has a personal toolbar where you can store all your frequently visited sites. To add any site all you have to do is drag the site’s favion onto the personal toolbar. Piece of cake.
And while Firefox offers many extensions to customise its look and feel, Opera offers only a few skins, keyboard shortcuts, and panels (preset RSS feeds).
Opera 9 beta 1 features several unique features, such as built-in desktop widgets and BitTorrent media support, along with several features that current Firefox 1.5 and Internet Explorer 7 for XP SP2 beta users will recognise, such as tabbed browsing, thumbnail previews, and a built-in pop-up blocker.
Customise your default search engine: Like Firefox and Internet Explorer 7 for XP SP2 beta, Opera 9 beta 1 now allows you to choose your default favourite search engine. Just right-click on the search field for any search Engine and choose “Create Search”. Sorry to say no other browser is so intutive.
Sessions: This feature in Opera 9 beta 1 will save, then reopen sets of frequently used tabs whenever you relaunch Opera. We like this time-saving feature. Firefox supports this but agian you have to search for an extension to do that. In Opera its there by default.
Site-specific controls: Say you trust the security on one page but not that of another. Now you can toggle your security settings to match specific pages within Opera 9 beta 1. This functionality is similar to the security zones of Internet Explorer — but it’s much easier to use.
Finally, there are little things that impress me. Try holding down the right mouse button and moving down, then let go. It’ll make a new tab without having to go up to the menu. To go back, hold down the right mouse button and click the left. For forward, hold the left and click the right. There are tons of these mouse gestures, configurable for literally EVERY action in Opera. I don’t ever use my toolbar anymore.
If you press Ctrl-B in the address bar, it’ll “Paste and Go” – it’s a simple feature, but actually saves time. Also, when a pop-up window (one that you want, of course) comes up without an address, it’ll have a clickable bar at its top with the server’s name. Then, if you click that, it’ll create a toolbar for the pop-up window.
Another note: in the review, it mentions the lack of a “History” and “Bookmarks” sidebar. They’re there – just press F4 or click on the tiny blue bar on the left side of the screen. If you click Tools->Appearance->Panels, you can enable a History view, Bookmarks view, a great Downloads view, IRC chat, and more.
Overall, it’s a great browser. I started using it just six months back. Now I can’t live without it.
If you want it, download it here