Opera Software releases Opera 9.6
Opera Software announced the release of the newest version of their Web browser, Opera 9.6. With as much gusto as we imagine a software company can possibly muster, their Web browser boasts not only speed and performance improvements, but also a variety of new features.

Fancy New Functionality

Things that caught our eye include: * Opera Link: Now lets you synchronize custom search engines and typed History. Any Web site address you typed in one computer will be available in all your other computers. * Magazine-Style Feed: Click on the feed icon and you will see it in a clean and efficient layout especially formatted for your window size. * Low Bandwidth Mode: Now Opera's built-in mail client reduces data downloads as much as possible, so you can check your mail faster when you are on the move. Enable it in your account properties and enjoy a faster email experience. * Follow Threads: Keep your eye on important discussions by right-clicking on one of the emails and selecting Follow Thread. All related emails will now appear under the Followed Thread view in your Mail panel. * Ignore Threads: Right-click on any uninteresting email and select Ignore Thread. Past and future emails from this thread will now skip your unread view.

The Little Browser That Could

Indeed, the reviews circulating the Web have some very positive things to say about the brave little browser, highlighting even more features, including tabbed browsing, mouse-over previews, a customizable search bar, mouse-gesture support and keyboard shortcuts. CNET in particular has been completely romanticized, claiming the belief that Opera has what it takes to unseat the biggest names in the Browser Land, and that the public simply just needs to hear it sing. Sing? If my browser could sing, I'd do the near-impossible and spend even more time on the Internet than I already do.

Opera Shrugged

It's common knowledge that the more weight you try to take on at once, the likelier it is that you'll lose balance. And the less than impressed ReadWriteWeb made an interesting point today about the downside to perhaps one of the more exciting new features: the magazine-style RSS feeds. The shorter the distance our eyes have to travel across a page, the more we're likely to read and the quicker we're likely to do it. Therefore, reading RSS feeds in a column layout is appealing to a lot of light readers, or even those new to RSS. As ReadWriteWeb points out, the Firefox extension Feedly transforms Google Reader into an electronic magazine of all your favorite material, so for a moment it was nice to think that there was a browser out there that came equipped with this convenient feature. However, Opera 9.6 merely shows a columned preview of the articles, while you're deciding whether or not to subscribe to the feed. With as many perks as Opera offers, it's strange that they didn't go the extra mile in this respect.

Browser Wars Cont'd

In the aftermath of the release of browsers like Google Chrome, SRWare Iron and the continuously popular Firefox, Opera's new player puts up a seemingly good fight overall -- and word on the electronic street is that its speed and numerous features indicate that it may be an underdog's time to take the stage.