It may only enjoy a fraction of the market share afforded to rival web browsers, but Opera is by no means a poor relation to the likes of Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. In many ways it’s been a pioneer – Opera was the first major browser to use tabs and provide a speed dial for its home page, and it has always been one of the quickest browsers out there thanks to a lightweight footprint, something its rivals are only now starting to embrace. Another unique feature is a built-in mail client enabling you to combine browsing and email in one application.
Opera isn’t afraid to utilise the best bits of other browsers either – version 11 saw the debut of a slimmed down user interface pioneered by Chrome and also copied by IE9 and Firefox 4. It also brought third-party extensions to the table for the first time, along with a handy bookmarks bar.
But if Opera is to maintain its image as a true web pioneer, it can’t afford to sit still. Version 11.10 is now available and the standout new feature is a greatly improved Speed Dial.
The new Speed Dial now provides bigger previews of each featured website, and – better still – dials can now dynamically show live content as they’re updated. You can now customise how many Speed Dial columns there are, effectively letting you choose how many you want on your home page, plus other improvements include the ability to add or edit the name of each dial for clear labelling.
Version 11.10 also improves the plug-in installation experience, so plugins like Adobe Flash install automatically and seamlessly when required. Support for web standards is also extended, and Opera now supports the W3C Web Open Font Format (WOFF) for the first time.
Opera deserves closer attention for its combination of performance and features – version 11.10 doesn’t provide any radical new changes, but an already decent web browser is made much better.