Opera v9.5 (codenamed Kestrel) is finally here! It was supposed to be a minor update to Opera – a precursor to the major update Peregrine (v10), that most fans expected to be released by the end of 2007. The wait turned out to be much longer than expected and kestrel definitely turned out to be a lot more than a minor update. Let’s take a look at some of the new features :
History Search : Opera is the first browser to provide integrated History search. Opera not only stores address of web pages you have visited but also the textual content of the web page. So even if you don’t remember the url you can revisit the website by simply entering some keywords. History Search works with the normal address bar, but also has a separate full-fledged interface.
New Skin : Opera v9.5 features a brand new skin – that makes it the best looking browser (at least on Windows). Its glossy and metallic texture gives Opera a futuristic look while being easy on eyes. I had covered it over here.
Opera Link : Opera Link allows you to take your bookmarks and speed dial where ever you go. This is similar to various bookmark sync available on Firefox and other browsers, but only slightly better. It allows you to sync bookmarks not only between PCs but also between mobile phones. Opera Link is fully compatible with Opera Mobile and Opera Mini. Not only that using the web-interface you can acess Opera links from a different browser (one that doesn’t support Opera link).
Open With : Lets face it, Opera does have some website compatibility issues (a lot of times due to no fault of its own). If Opera’s rendition of a webpage doesn’t please you, you can now launch the webpage with a different browser . This is what I love about Opera. If there is a problem, they wont deny it. Instead they would do whatever they can to help their user, even if that means pointing the user towards its competitors.
M2 Revitalized : A lot of work has been done on the inbuilt mail client. While I don’t use the mail client this is certainly going to be appreciated by those who do. Its faster, snappier and more functional.
Security : Security is of paramount importance in a browser and Kestrel delivers on that front too. While there are numerous small changes, there are two big noticeable ones that I would like to talk about :
Support for Extended Validation (EV) certificates: SSL which were meant to be an indicator of genuineness can be obtained these days very easily and are being widely misused. Due to this Extended Validation Certificates were introduced which require extensive investigation of the requesting entity by the Certificate Authority. Hence, its unlikely that a malicious website will employ EV certificates. Opera now sports a new security notification scheme in the address field that allows you to judge the genuineness of a website at a glance. Security Notification scheme is as follows:
gold lock on green field for secure sites with Extended Validation
silver lock on yellow field for regular secure sites
question mark on gray field for HTTPS sites with problems
no notification for normal sites
fraud warning on red field for blacklisted sites
Malware Filter : Opera already featured a phishing filter. Now they have added a malware filter powered by Haute Secure which will block Web sites known to distribute malware as well as protect Opera users from downloading software from links designed to trigger malicious attacks.
Rendering Engine : The rendering engine has innumerable under the hood changes. It’s significantly faster and supports of better standards compliance. Website compatibility has also been improved.
Other changes :
Now trash allows you to restored closed Windows.
Save Your Password doesn’t prevent the page from loading. So, now before saving a password you can check if the entered password is correct.
Under the hood changes have ensured that Opera is lighter than before.
Status bar is enabled by default and now includes zoom and fit to page width buttons.
Opera now supports “Drag to scroll” (disabled by default) which allows scrolling by “grabbing” the page. This is similar to what is present in popular pdf readers like Adobe Reader and Foxit.
#Update : In related news Opera has partnered with Baidu.com – most popular search engine in China. As a result of this partnership anyone accessing the Internet using Operaï¿½s Chinese-language desktop browser can immediately enjoy Baiduï¿½s powerful search directly from the browser start page.