02:11 PM

Opera Beats Mozilla, Microsoft To Release

The final version of Opera 9 has shipped, offering users small Web-based "widget" applications, support for BitTorrent, a content blocker and security bar, and customized search.

Opera Software on Tuesday rolled out the final edition of Opera 9 for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, and BSD, beating both Mozilla and Microsoft to the major browser update punch.

In a preview program since April, Opera 9 sports several new features, including small Web-based "widget" applications, support for BitTorrent, a content blocker and security bar, and customized search.

"We worked hard to push the limits of what people expect from a Web browser," said Jon von Tetzchner, the Oslo, Norway-based company's chief executive.

Opera's new widgets, which are similar to the same-named applets in Mac OS X and to Yahoo's Widget Engine, can be downloaded from a dedicated library on the site.

The security bar handles pop-up and phishing alerts, using a technique familiar to anyone who has used Firefox or even Internet Explorer when equipped with an add-on toolbar like the ones from Google or MSN.

Other features include saved sessions -- which returns the browser to its former status after a crash, down to the tabs opened and sites displayed -- site-by-site ad blocking, and new "skins" for transforming the browser's look and feel.

Opera 9 can be downloaded free of charge from this Web site.

Mozilla is currently working on Firefox 2.0, which is slated for release in August. Microsoft, meanwhile, is aiming to unveil its IE 7 ( called IE 7+ in Windows Vista) later this year.

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