Opera to release Mac version of “fastest browser” soon
By Brad Gibson
MacCentral has learned
Opera Software AS
will release a Macintosh beta version of what it claims is “the fastest browser on earth” later this year and a final version by year’s end.
Opera version 5.0 for Mac
(seen here) is currently in alpha testing and will be “available soon” in a public beta version, Pal Hvistendahl, Opera communications manager, told MacCentral. When pressed to give more specific dates or time frames for its release, Hvistendahl would not comment only to say, “We’re trying to complete the beta as fast as we can and as soon as we think it’s ready, we’re going to ship it … I think Mac users have something to really look forward to.”
The initial public beta will be for PowerPC-based Macs, followed by a version for 68K-based Macs and an OS X version all by year’s end, Hvistendahl said.
Like the Windows version, Opera for Mac will offer two options for using the browser. The user has the choice to download a free, ad-supported version with all features and functionality enabled, or registering the browser at a charge of US$39 that removes the ads, with various discounts applying.
Some of Opera’s unique features which will be part of the Mac version include the ability the surf in multiple windows simultaneously, full keyboard navigation and graphics disabling. Hvistendahl said there would not be an e-mail client in the initial Mac version of Opera. “A lot of people prefer to use a standalone e-mail client,” he said.
Based in Oslo, Norway, Opera makes what it calls “the fastest browser on earth” compared to its much more popular counterparts — Netscape’s Navigator and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Hvistendahl said Opera can make such a claim because it comes down to efficient coding. “We follow the international Internet standards and we are very particular about the efficiency of our code,” he said.
As an example of code size, the non-Java-enabled version of Opera for Windows is 2MB in size, while the Java-enabled version is 9.5MB. In comparison, Internet Explorer for Mac without Java is about 10.5MB, while Netscape Communicator with Java is some 24MB. Hvistendahl said he expects the Mac version to weigh in around the same size as its Windows counterpart.
As Opera grows in features to match its competitors and therefore grows in code size, Hvistendahl said the challenge becomes greater, but the goal is always “to program better.”
Opera is designed to run on a variety of other operating systems, including Windows, Be OS and the Epoc wireless system. A Linux version of Opera 5.0 is presently in beta.
The initial interest in Opera for Windows was better than expected, Hvistendahl said. Released last December, over two million users downloaded version 5.0. The acceptance was so overwhelming, Opera has decided to release its next two versions for free to continue the products marketing momentum.
“By releasing free versions of our Linux and Mac-browsers, we further escalate the Browser War,” said Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera. “We will now be present with free versions on all the major desktop platforms, and we expect that our unique Internet experience over time will capture a significant market share in all of them.”
While development on its browsers continues behind the scenes, Opera is closing deals with portal companies and Internet appliance makers to include its browser in its products and services. Recently the company finalized a deal with Sony to include the Opera browser in its eVilla Web-surfing appliance, and is working on similar deals with other vendors, Hvistendahl said.
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