The days when major browser updates were few and far between are over. Nowadays, it’s de rigueur for browser manufacturers to speed up development, which means opening up less stable builds to the masses in order to get them bug-checked as quickly as possible.
Opera is no exception, and Opera Next adopts the same approach to Firefox Aurora in providing a completely separate installation of the latest unstable version of Opera for people to road-test without affecting their day-to-day browsing.
The reasoning is simple: you get to try out the new features without affecting your existing installation, so if the developmental version is too buggy for your tastes, you can use your tried and trusted version, no problem. And because Opera Next updates as soon as the latest development build is released, you can keep checking back regularly to see what’s up and coming and whether the bugs you’ve encountered have been fixed yet.
You’ll be able to differentiate between stable and developmental build by the colour of the program icon: Opera’s icon remains red, while Opera Next’s icon is silver grey, meaning it’ll be safe for even relatively inexperienced users to try out new features before they become generally available.
This is the first build of the forthcoming Opera 12.50, codenamed 'Marlin'. It's still work-in-progress, but early new features include an implementation of the Clipboard API, support for some -webkit prefixed CSS properties, a redesigned keyboard event handling,and integration with Mac OS X 10.8’s Notification Center.