The latest offering from Opera stacks up nicely against Firefox, IE

Opera made waves earlier this year, releasing its 9.5 "Kestrel" version of its desktop browser.  The Norwegian company has grown a small but loyal contingent of users over the years and continues to provide a solid alternative to an Internet Explorer versus Firefox world.

Also known for its Wii and Nintendo DS browsers, Opera today unleashed the 9.6 iteration of its desktop browser on the world.  The browser is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows computers.  It comes in 38 languages, including for the first time Indonesian, Ukrainian, Estonian, Hindi, Telugu, and Tamil, and, like its competitors, is free of cost.

The new browser offers up many new features as well as some older popular ones.  Among the most anticipated new features is the Opera Link tool, which allows you to synchronize your browser's bookmarks and preferences from any location.

Other more subtle improvements are also welcome, such as new visual previews of RSS feeds, which will let you see what you're subscribing too.  For users who work on older machines, Opera's newly optimized "low bandwidth mode" for its mail utility will offer superior performance.  The email client also has new message prioritizing features.

Overall the speed has also been turned up from version 9.5.  The speed loading pages with scripts is very competitive compared to Firefox 3, Google's new Chrome browser, and the beta of Internet Explorer 8.

Opera Software's CEO Jon von Tetzchner was enthusiastic about the new release, stating, "We believe in making the Web available for people everywhere. The people who use Opera need it to adapt to their needs and we’re proud to continue that tradition today. Our improved e-mail client is now the ideal communication tool. Opera Link gives you more flexibility to take your personal browsing identity with you to any computer. The new Opera 9.6 gives more people around the world new reasons to choose Opera."

One possible improvement that still remains to be implemented is support for Firefox add-ons.  One perpetual reader comment about the Opera browser is that they love the browser and its features, but could not go without Firefox's valuable add-ons such as NoScript and AdBlock.

Still, for a basic browsing experience Opera offers a solid alternative to the bigger names in the browser business.  To check it out for yourself, go here.

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