Opera 8 Web Browser Launches

Touting its speed, security and simplicity, Opera Software today launched a major upgrade to its popular Web browser. Opera 8 pulls together a number of innovative new features and security safeguards under a refreshed user interface.

By default, Opera now sports a simplified tabbed interface, with advanced features available for manual activation. Unlike Mozilla's Firefox, Opera says users do not need to download extensions to add functionality, as a wide-range of features are built-in for power users.

The first beta of Opera 8 launched in late December, adding native speech technology that accepts voice commands and even reads aloud the content on Web pages. Since that time, over nearly one million users have downloaded the new Opera, the company says.

In addition to voice commands using XHTML+Voice, Opera 8 endeavors to put an end to the problem of rendering Web pages effectively regardless of screen size. Dubbed ERA, or Extensible Rendering Architecture, the new technology serves a dual purpose. Along with being an accessibility feature, ERA fits Web pages to the screens of mobile devices - a segment of the browser marketplace where Opera has achieved success.

Support for RSS newsfeeds and Scalable Vector Graphics are also highlights in the new release. Although RSS has been added to a place of prominence in the interface, Opera is striving to eliminate clutter. Version 8 has its main features placed in a "Start Bar" for easy access.

A trash can recalls closed windows and blocked pop-ups and is layered together with Opera's existing Sessions feature as a safeguard against losing work.

Since early 2005, however, security has become the top priority of Opera 8. In February, Opera introduced a new security information field that is activated when visiting a secure site. Users can click on the yellow bar to display more details about the trustworthiness of a Web site.

In response to the discovery of a spoofing vulnerability using Internationalized Domain Names, URLs localized using the IDN standard will only display for certain top-level domains (TLDs) certified by Opera.

Calling Opera 8 a major leap in browser innovation, Opera CTO Hakom Wium Lie said his company has been in the browser-making business for 10 years and is proud of the new release.

"The vast majority of Internet users have had to deal with a slow and insecure browser for too long. People are spending more time online, and with the increase in online fraud it is vital that they have a browser that is fast, secure and easy to use. That's what we offer with Opera 8," said Lie.

Opera 8 is available now for Linux and Windows. A beta release of Opera 8 for Mac OS X is also available for download.

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