After a remarkably short release candidate period, Opera Software has released Opera 11, just in time for Christmas. With Opera 11, the venerable Norwegian browser maker is hoping to leapfrog its competition. Even as Mozilla has been struggling to get Firefox 4 out of the door, Opera 11 has gone from alpha to final release within just 2 months. Opera’s Haavard Moen claims that an improved development process over the past year or so has allowed developers to work on more things simultaneously without compromising stability of the main branch.
Opera 11 is a big release for Opera Software. It’s a significant step-up from the Opera 10.6 trunk and adds some meaty features to the already feature packed browser. Some of the highlights of this release are:
- Tab Stacking: Tab clutter is a problem many web-addicts have to deal with. Once you have a couple of dozen or more tabs, the utility of tabbed browsing diminishes greatly as individual tabs become practically indistinguishable. Opera is trying to solve this issue through Tab Stacking. Tab Stacking makes it possible to group tabs by simply dragging and dropping tabs on top of each other. Opera also toyed around with the idea of enabling tab stacking in one of the snapshots. However, it was dropped in subsequent builds due to numerous inconsistencies and annoyances present in the initial implementation. Opera clearly believes that tabbed stacking is the future of browsing, and has promised to refine it further in future releases.
- Visual Mouse Gestures: Opera is one of the few browsers to ship with inbuilt support for mouse gestures. Mouse gestures is the killer feature you never knew you needed. It allows you to perform actions like open links in new tab, reload, stop and close tabs with a flick of your mouse. Once you get the hang of it, you will find it hard to live without it. However, most users never discover this feature, as the only way to learn about gestures is to study the documentation or go through the Mouse gestures configuration. Opera 11 tries to fix this by introducing a slick user interface that appears on right-clicking on any portion of the page. This mouse gestures interface guides you through the basic gestures.
- Safer and Cleaner Address Bar: Opera has tweaked the address bar to make it easier to spot phishing websites. The primary domain name is highlighted while protocols and parameters are hidden by default. It also prominently displays security information about the website you are browsing.
- On-demand Plugin Loading: Now, it is possible to have Opera load plugins like Flash and Silverlight only when required. This actually acts as a very nifty flashblock, as flash videos are blocked by default, and can be loaded individually.
Other Changes include
- New app-tab mode that shrinks and shifts pinned tabs to the left.
- Inbuilt support for Google Suggest.
- Improved rendering engine (presto).
- New Mail panel.
- New Bookmarks bar.
- Support for WebSockets (disabled due to security concerns).
You can download Opera 11 for Windows, UNIX and Mac from www.opera.com.