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Opera gets in tune with Mac OS update

The Norwegian browser maker releases a version of its software tailored to Panther, the second major update to Apple's Mac OS X, expected to launch later this year.

Opera Software is getting in step with Panther.

On Tuesday, the independent browser company introduced Opera 6.03, which is tailored to the upcoming update of the Macintosh operating system, code-named Panther. It said the release was necessary "to make Opera compatible with the debuting operating system."

Panther, previewed in June at Macworld Expo, is expected to make a debut later this year. Also known as Mac OS X 10.3, it is an upgrade to Mac OS X, the Unix-based software that replaced Apple Computer's long-standing operating system, after years in development.

Like its immediate predecessor Jaguar, Panther is expected to come with its own browser, Safari. The January introduction of Safari threw the Mac browser market into disarray, and Opera threatened to withdraw altogether from building Mac versions of its software.

The Norwegian company later withdrew that threat. However, Microsoft said it would halt development of its own Mac-flavored browser, thanks to the advent of Safari.

Although the 6.03 upgrade is coming out ahead of Panther, Opera's Mac schedule is still far behind its releases for Microsoft Windows. Opera has promised that later this year, it will bring Mac users up to speed on its rewritten browser, version 7. By contrast, the software maker first previewed version 7 for Windows a year ago.