Opera Unveil Minimalist Browser

Opera Software has unveiled version 3.5 of Opera, the minimalist Web browser software. As reported previously by Newsbytes, Opera was developed for the millions of users of PCs whose machines are not really capable of running "bloatware" Web applications such as Netscape Communicator 4.x and Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.x. The package was originally developed for users of 386-based and 486- based PCs, typically running under Windows 3.xx, in Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia and those parts of the world where older PCs are still in widespread use.

Although shareware in nature, the software has gained millions of devotees, mainly because of its simple user interface and the ability, for example, to toggle graphics on and off from an icon on the main page. Version 3.5 of Opera sees the arrival of support for Java, file upload, CSS1 and TLS (Transport Layer Security) 1.0 -- technologies, Newsbytes notes, that are usually found only in the latest editions of the Netscape and Microsoft Web browsers. In parallel with the launch of the new version of Opera, the company has also unveiled a Web-based e-mail service called OperaMail, as well as a customized version of PeopleLink's Instant Messaging application and service.

Interestingly, Opera Software says that Opera 3.5 actually outguns Netscape Communicator and Internet Explorer in several of its features. The firm says that the implementation of CSS1 is state-of- the-art, and that it is the only browser to support Transport Layer Security, the successor to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). In addition to this, Newsbytes notes, because Opera does not fall under the restrictive US export limitations, it integrates the latest 128-bit encryption protocols without requiring additional modules. Other new features include an offline browser mode, name completion, and a turbo mode facility. There is also a new download window feature, plus support for all available Web browser plug-ins, the firm says.

According to Jon von Tetzchner, the firm's business director and co- founder, Opera 3.5 is an important milestone for the company. "It shows that we are the leading force in Internet security, standards adherence and customization options, while keeping the program size to an absolute minimum," he explained. Sandra Rhorbjornsen, the firm's press relations manager, meanwhile, said that interest in Opera has been almost meteoric since version 3.0 was released. "With version 3.5 we are preparing for yet another surge. In addition to aiming for the corporate and educational markets, as well as institutions for people with disabilities that we already serve, we are also focusing on distribution through major international vendors including Internet service providers and original equipment manufacturers," she said.

"Beyond that, the tremendous interest from corporations and publishers in our offline version has contributed to an even wider spread of Opera," she said. Opera 3.5 is available in two versions: the 32-bit edition for Windows 95/98 and NT 4.0, and the 16-bit edition for Windows 3.x. Both editions require a 386-based PC with at least eight megabytes (MB) of memory. Versions of 3.5 are also under development for OS/2 and Apple Mac. Opera's Web site is at http://www.operasoftware.com .


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