Opera 10 renders faster, supports new technologies

With Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Mozilla engaged in a fierce tug of war over web browsers, users often forget about the seemingly perpetual underdog, Opera. Today, the folks in Oslo have released Opera 10, the next major release of their cross-platform web browser.

Opera 10 is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris. Just head down to the download page and grab the installer, which is a mere 6.6MB for Windows.

The new release includes an updated rendering engine that's purportedly 40% faster on "resource-intensive pages such as Gmail and Facebook." Opera Software has also built in support for new web technologies like web fonts, and it's improved standards support so the browser passes the Acid3 test with a 100/100 score. (Firefox 3.5 and Internet Explorer 8 still haven't gotten there.)

Other features include a refined user interface, optional "visual tabs" (see above), better integration with web apps, Opera Link to synchronize user settings across multiple systems, an improved Opera Dragonfly debugging tool, and Opera Turbo, a compression scheme that can speed up the web for users on slow connections.

Despite all of these improvements, Opera doesn't seem to have quite caught up to the performance of Chrome, Safari, and to a lesser extent, Firefox. Opera 10 feels noticeably slower when browsing TR, and its SunSpider JavaScript benchmark time was a sluggish 3,855 ms on this editor's PC. Firefox 3.5 managed 1,452 ms on the same system, and Chrome 4.0 hit 705 ms.

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