Opera Software is out with a new release of its namesake browser for Windows, Mac and Linux computers. Opera 11 includes new features aimed at improving usability, extensibility and security.
The new Opera 11 release comes as rival browser makers include Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox, continue to push forward the limits of browser technologies.
Among the key new features in Opera 11 is something called tab stacking. With tab stacking, Opera users can manipulate and organize their tabs by dragging one tab on top of another, creating a stack. Opera is not alone in attempting to improve tab usability and organization. Rival browser Mozilla Firefox 4 is set to include its own tab organization feature, originally called Tab Candy and now known as Panorama.
Opera 11 is also the first stable Opera release to include add-on extensions which provide additional functionality to the browser. Opera’s implementation of extensions is based on the W3C widget specification. With Opera 11’s extension implementation, add-ons can be loaded on-demand. According to Opera, the on-demand loading of extensions could improve browser performance by up to 30 percent.
Opera has setup the addons.opera.com website to help users find and rate Opera extensions. Currently there are just over 200 extensions available on the site. Google’s Chrome browser added extensions to its stable browserat the beginning of the year.
“We have always worked hard to introduce new and bold ideas in web browsing,” said Jon von Tetzchner, Opera co-founder, in a statement. “But, sometimes we want to take an idea and improve upon it. Opera 11 adds a layer of polish to features people have known and loved for more than a decade, while introducing extensions.”
Opera is also aiming to improve browser security by making site security information clearer to users. According to Opera, their new browser includes a safer address field which provides more security information about website connections.
Opera continues to trail Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari in the desktop marketplace in terms of browser share, though Opera has had some gains this year. In March, Opera had stated that its downloads had doubled in Europe, after Microsoft began deploying a choice screen for browser selection on Windows.
Even with the European gains, on a global basis, Opera’s browser hasn’t reached double digit market penetration globally. Market research firm Net Applicationshas pegged Opera’s browser market share for November of 2010 to be 2.20 percent.
Overall, it’s a busy and active time for browser developers. Microsoft is currently ramping up for the release of IE 9, while Mozilla is working on Firefox 4. Google recently released Chrome 8with Chrome 9 currently in Beta development.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.