An Acid3 score of 100 percent on Windows was long thought to be a mythical creature like a unicorn or dwarf, but Opera proved otherwise.  (Source: Opera Team)
The Windows browser world has a new compatibility king

It looks like Safari's sole reign at the top of the Acid3 standings was rather short lived.  The new co-victor is Opera, maker of the Nintendo Wii and DS browsers, which has been hard at work preparing to release its PC 9.5 version of its browser, codenamed "Kestrel".  It released an alpha build in September and a beta build in October.  It plans on a final release of "Kestrel" this summer, squaring it up to take on Firefox 3.

Now "Kestrel" has some new bragging rights in its competition against Microsoft, Mozilla, and Apple's browsers.  The scrappy little company has become the first to produce a Windows browser capable of passing the Acid3 test.  On Opera's Desktop Team blog a team poster shared news from Lars Erik Bolstad, the Head of Core Technology at Opera Software, who states, "I have a quick update on where we are with Acid3.  Since the test was officially announced recently, our Core developers have been hard at work fixing bugs and adding the missing standards support.  Today we reached a 100% pass rate for the first time! There are some remaining issues yet to be fixed, but we hope to have those sorted out shortly."

Last month the best result had been set on a Mac computer using the Safari browser, which scored 90 percent.  The same day that Opera scored a passing result, Safari's nightly webkit build for Apple also achieved a 100 percent score, according to an online leaderboard with many statistics.  However, this passing result was for Mac only.  According to the list the previous leaders for Windows for in-development browsers were Firefox 3.0b4 at 68 percent, and for released browsers Safari 3.1 (525.13) at 75 percent.

The new results for Opera place it as the clear leader in compatibility among the Windows browsers.  While it has to share the overall crown with Safari, Safari is only fully compatible on Macs, lowering its userbase that get to enjoy Acid3 perfection.  For those who want to grab the record setting Opera browser, you'll have to wait about a week, while the Opera team fixes a few final bugs for the final preview version.

In his message  Bolstad states, "We will release a technical preview version on within the next week or so. For now, the screenshot above shows the Acid3 test as rendered in our latest WinGogi Desktop build. WinGogi is the Windows version of our reference builds used for the internal testing of Opera's platform independent Core."

Opera use peaked in February 2004.  With the release of more stable/functional Internet Explorer versions and Firefox its support waned to its current marketshare of between 0.5-0.8 percent, according to current estimates.  However, with its new status as compatibility king of windows browsers some may care to take a second look at this alternative browser.

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