Opera 9 goes public

Opera has announced the first public Beta of Opera 9, its forthcoming browser. Features of version 9 include support for widgets, thumbnail previews, site-specific preferences and improved pop-up blocking.

By the term ‘widgets’ Opera means small Web apps that run directly on the desktop. These can interact with online services – such as news feeds, dictionaries or search engines – and Opera’s hope is that users develop their own .wdgt files (a regular zip file, in reality) using JavaScript, HTML and CSS (cascading style sheets).

Of course this concept is already familiar to OS X users with their Dashboard widgets.

Essentially, for Opera, they are an attempt to build on the functionality of browsers, making them more than a static view of HTML content. At the least they can provide a ‘portalised’ browser interface – weather charts and share prices are the usual suspects mentioned – but potentially they could enable useful customised information sources.

‘We’re proud to release this Beta of Opera 9 to Web users around the world,’ said Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. ‘Opera 9 brings powerful new features to enhance the Web browsing experience and empower Web 2.0 developers. Opera 9 unlocks new levels of productivity for the Internet ecosystem.’

You can download the free beta, which runs on Windows, Macs and Unix, from www.opera.com/download.

The second technical preview of Opera 9 was previously released back in February. Support for BitTorrent file sharing was included in the first technical preview released in July 2005.

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