Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Opera Labs and Opera 9 TP2

Opera has just opened the doors to Opera Labs, somewhat reminiscent of Google Labs, as well as releasing Opera 9.0 Technical Preview 2 (TP2).

One of the major features in TP2 is the official alliance with BitTorrent Inc., the company behind BitTorrent owned by Bram Cohen. Whereas earlier previews of Opera 8 featured basic BitTorrent functionality built into the browser, this was based on the open specification for BitTorrent. Now, Opera has a commercial alliance with the company itself which they are using to license the BitTorrent logo and integrate the official BitTorrent Search into the browser.

Additionally, and possibly more significantly, Opera 9 TP2 (which can be downloaded from Opera Labs) contains widget support, as reported by InformationWeek. Here's a screenshot of the widget configuration dialog (of course, you can completely disable widgets if you so desire):

Widgets in Opera

And here's some screenshots of the Slashdot widget, which folds out to display the latest Slashdot articles:

Slashdot widget before unfoldingSlashdot widget after unfolding

Very nice. Widget support does seem to be a bit bloaty, but Opera is still significantly slimmer than Firefox in executable size, install size and resource usage, so I'll stick with it. Also, widgets are something I'd like to get into, but when I've tried it in the past it's been a pain in the ass to keep another program running in the background to control them. Since Opera is always running on my PC, the job suits it nicely.

This all comes in addition to the recent release of the second beta of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7. Looks like things are pointing towards another instalment of the Browser Wars..

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