Beta Version of Opera 8 Launches

Rhett Pardon
OSLO, Norway — In a bid to help compete with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox, Opera Software has launched the beta version of its next browser for Windows.

Opera 8, which makes horizontal scrolling obsolete, uses Extensible Rendering Architecture, or ERA, that enables surfers to view pages on any hardware, including mobile devices and televisions.

It also includes performance improvements, a ramped-up user interface and new voice browsing capabilities, which allow English-speaking users to speak commands to navigate web pages as well as to have content read through text-to-speech technology.

The browser also has improved RSS handling — including an icon in the address bar of sites that offer feeds for one-step subscriptions — and solves common printing problems by resizing a page to fit the paper’s width.

“We were preparing for the 7.6 release, but as work progressed and we kept adding improvements and functionality, it became evident that we had a browser that exceeds the next logical version number and warrants a major release,” Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner said in a statement from company headquarters in Oslo.

The final version, which is scheduled for release in early 2005, has not yet been given an official name, von Tetzchner said. It will support multiple platforms including Mac OS X and Linux.

Opera 8 can be downloaded here.