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Mac Opera escapes limbo

Opera on Thursday will update its browser for the Mac, months after threatening to end development in reaction to Apple's bypassing it for open-source competitor KHTML.

After months of uncertainty, an upgrade to Opera's browser for the Mac will be released on Thursday.

"We've decided to stay and fight on the Mac platform," Opera Software representative Pal Hvistendahl wrote in an e-mail. "Tomorrow we are releasing a new version for the Mac."

Opera is a private company in Oslo, Norway, that for years has stood its ground against browser titan Microsoft and open-source alternative Mozilla. In January the company was caught off-guard when Apple Computer released its Safari browser based on the open-source KHTML code.

At the time, Opera Chief Executive Jon von Tetzchner warned that continued development of Mac Opera--which commands a small percentage of Opera's already tiny market share--might not be "viable" with Apple becoming yet another competitor.

Apple responded by calling Opera's complaints "sour grapes."

Last month, Opera changed its tune and said a new code base would make developing separate versions for different operating systems sufficiently easy that it could keep producing Opera for the Mac.

The Mac Opera coming out Thursday, version 6.02, does not yet belong to the new generation of Opera browsers. Starting with version 7, the new generation of Opera is based on a completely rewritten code base, revealed in August, that aims to make the browser faster and more compatible with industry standards recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Opera said the decision to continue producing a Mac browser was partly based on interest by consumers and third-party software developers such as San Francisco-based Macromedia, which in July said it would embed Opera in its Web-authoring tools.

"Mac users have spoken," Tetzchner said in a prepared statement. "Thanks to the great interest shown by all our Mac users as well as Mac software developers who wish to use our rendering engine in their applications, such as Macromedia, Opera 7 for Mac will be coming to a Mac near you soon."

Opera said it will now focus on getting its Mac browser up to speed with version 7, which is already available for the Windows and Linux operating systems.

Opera 6.02 for the Mac will be available for download in a free advertising-supported version and a paid version for $39.