While Mozilla prepares to set a Guinness World Record on Tuesday with its release of Firefox 3, and Apple continues to push Safari on Windows and the iPhone, you’d think that there was no more room for web browser alternatives to Internet Explorer—but you’d be wrong. This week, to much less fanfare than Apple, Microsoft, and even Mozilla gets, Opera released its newest version 9.5 and it’s not out of the browser race by any means. What sets Opera apart from Firefox? Take a tour of some of the new and improved features that keep Opera a viable alternative to IE, Safari, and—yes, even Firefox.
While Firefox is undoubtedly a robust browser, you get many of Firefox’s killer with add-ons—but a number of those features are baked right into Opera 9.5.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous or just have a strong desire to shout from your cubicle, Opera has a voice control feature. Note: the feature requires an additional 10.5MB download, but is more than worth it to be able to issue commands to your web browser like Jean Luc Picard standing confidently on his bridge. Unfortunately, upon further investigation “Opera: Take us to warp 5” did not yield the anticipated outcome. Aside from accepting commands the Voice feature will also talk back. Highlight the text you wish to listen to, and you’re one “Opera: Read” away from browsing with your eyes closed.
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Fit to Width
Another small but handy feature in Opera is Fit To Width, which reduces pages to fit the size of the browsing window. Mileage varies depending on the web site—CSS style tables sometimes realign themselves poorly—but Fit To Width is still useful and often cited by the users of other browsers as a small feature they’d love to see in their browser of choice.
We know there are some die-hard Opera fans lurking in our readership. Shout out what it is you love about the browser. Is there a favourite feature we overlooked? Tell us about it in the comments. Opera 9.5 is a free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux.