February 5, 2006 9:00 PM PST

Opera preview puts widgets on stage

Opera Software on Tuesday plans to release a second preview version of Opera 9, the next version of its namesake Web browser.

For the first time, the new version will include support for so-called widgets, Opera representative Thomas Ford said. Widgets are essentially small browser windows that display information taken from the Internet on a user's desktop. The notion is similar in concept to the widget idea that Apple Computer uses in the Dashboard feature of Mac OS X.

"It is really a big jump for us into Web applications," Ford said. "They give people the information they want right on the desktop. Even if it is a Web page, people don't have to go to the browser to see it."

Additionally, Opera's latest preview will include support for BitTorrent downloads, Ford said. BitTorrent is a file-download technology that connects the computers of numerous people who want the same file, instead of drawing files solely from one source. Typically, people who wanted to get downloads using BitTorrent have had to download dedicated software.

Opera will include the official BitTorrent.com search engine in its browser. Any BitTorrent downloads will appear in the browser's "transfer manager," just like traditional downloads that use the venerable File Transfer Protocol, or FTP.

To drive usage of the new widgets feature, Opera will offer about 10 widgets it has developed itself, such as a clock. It will also offer guidance on its Web site for others to develop more of the add-ons. Anyone with regular Web development skills, such as knowledge of JavaScript, CSS and HTML, should be able to create Opera widgets, Ford said.

The second preview release follows the initial one in late October. It will be available for download on Tuesday from Labs.opera.com. One caution: Previews are not free of bugs. "This is for advanced users who want to get a taste of our technology, and they expect there will be some issues with it," Ford said.

The final version of Opera 9 will be delivered in the first half of 2006, Ford said.

See more CNET content tagged:
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Very Satisfied With Preview 1
I've been using Preview 1 for a few days now and am very satisfied with it. The quality is exellent. It is rock solid (has not crashed once),and has very few bugs as far as I can tell. Most sites render properly, and the rendering speed is amazing. I look forward to installing Preview 2 on Tuesday.

I contrast my recent Opera experience (beta) to that of Firefox (production). Starting with 1.5 I began to experience frequent, multiple browser crashes. Crashes occurred on multiple computers running different version of Java. In some cases I had to completely reboot the computer to get Firefox to load again. Attempts to resolve the problem by reinstalling, and disabling all extensions were of no help. Finally,in disgust, I dumped Firefox for Opera. It is ironic that the quality of Opera beta seems to be far superior to Firefox production, and the features that matter to me most are about equivalent.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
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Opera isn't free
I'm quite satisfied with Firefox, but I'm always open to trying something new. That said, I refuse to try a utility that, in my opinion, ought to be free. They're gonna go the route of netscape if they keep charging. If they really do have a superior product, they should drop the price to zero and let that puppy compete.
Posted by mortis9 (370 comments )
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Problems With Firefox
I don't know why your Firefox version behaved erratically. I've been using Firefox versions 1.5 and intensely (more than 10 hours a day) with several tabs open, and not once has it crashed. Maybe you had compatibility problems with your extensions, since version 1.5 was a major upgrade.

I look forward to tomorrows Opera Preview 2 which will include widgets. I've been using widgets from ex-Konfabulator and they perform fine; plus they look cute on the screen.
Posted by epiac1216 (23 comments )
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There is another web browser: Oxygen
FYI: there is another web browser out there.
Which is very good and fast and it is totally hack proof. And it has one real advantage over IE, FF or Opera, it has Java natively built in.
And it is totally free, free of cost or Ad banners. It is NetDIVE's Oxygen web browser.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.netdive.com/oxygen/download.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.netdive.com/oxygen/download.htm</a>

Cheers :)
Posted by Dean_Ansari (61 comments )
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Not really...
I just downloaded Oxygen and tried it out. It's just another rebranded Mozilla/Netscape browser. Nothing to get excited over.
Posted by zmodem (1 comment )
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Opera is what a Browser should be
I moved away from IE and never looked back&gt; Actually, I prefer Opera due to the flexibility factor. I like the panels and ease of use. The fast link finder capability and almost everything about it. Opera seems to have problems (or some sites have problems :O) with Opera.

Can't use Opera to do banking and all the functionality of Gmail isn't available either. Still, most of my web work is done on Opera. Fast, dependable, reliable, and just a good piece of software with the bells and whistles!
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