For the first time, the new version will include support for so-called widgets, Opera representative Thomas Ford said. Widgets are essentially small browser windows that display information taken from the Internet on a user's desktop. The notion is similar in concept to the widget idea that Apple Computer uses in the Dashboard feature of Mac OS X.
"It is really a big jump for us into Web applications," Ford said. "They give people the information they want right on the desktop. Even if it is a Web page, people don't have to go to the browser to see it."
Additionally, Opera's latest preview will include support for BitTorrent downloads, Ford said. BitTorrent is a file-download technology that connects the computers of numerous people who want the same file, instead of drawing files solely from one source. Typically, people who wanted to get downloads using BitTorrent have had to download dedicated software.
Opera will include the official BitTorrent.com search engine in its browser. Any BitTorrent downloads will appear in the browser's "transfer manager," just like traditional downloads that use the venerable File Transfer Protocol, or FTP.
The second preview release follows the initial one in late October. It will be available for download on Tuesday from Labs.opera.com. One caution: Previews are not free of bugs. "This is for advanced users who want to get a taste of our technology, and they expect there will be some issues with it," Ford said.
The final version of Opera 9 will be delivered in the first half of 2006, Ford said.