Since I purchased Opera 3.21 two years ago as a senior in college, I’ve eagerly awaited each and every update. For the last year-and-a-half I’ve been anticipating the release of Opera 4.0 — built on a new engine to be compliant with HTML 4.0 standards as well as faster than before (if that was possible). However, for months upon months, enduring releases for Linux, BeOS, EPOC, etc., there is finally a new Windows beta version to play around with.
I was a bit surprised because Opera 4.0b1 looks pretty much like Opera 3.62 (and even Opera 3.21 for that matter). Not that I was expecting any major differences, but still. In any event, the one thing I did notice is that while the browser is still a fraction of the size of IE or Netscape (the download is about 1.5 megs), it’s gotten even quicker than before. Pages load up in a snappy fashion, even those with heavy backgrounds or lots of images. Whatever they did, they did it well.
Apparently, much of the HTML 4.0 spec is followed, though I haven’t had the time to see exactly how much. I have noticed a couple of the main problems with earlier versions (like displaying background images in table cells) have been fixed. Since there’s no real information on their web site yet about the differences in the new version, I also don’t know to what extent they support CSS2, though I imagine it’s the best of any current browser since Opera was the most CSS-compliant browser for CSS1.
There are some problems, though, as should be expected with a beta version. I’ve already submitted three or four bug reports and have had a few crashes, but it’s worth dealing with to get a peek at a new product. If you’re already an Opera user, go grab the new version, but install it separately from your previous version (you could install Opera 15 separate times and still not have it the size of IE 5). If you haven’t tried Opera yet, you may want to give it a spin — especially if the idea of having 15 windows open at once excites you. -ram
Posted in Technology