Opera, based in Oslo, Norway, revealed in August that it was in the process ofits browser from the ground up. The goal was to provide a browser that was smaller and faster.
Opera 7 is only marginally smaller than its predecessor--a 3.4MB download compared with 3.5MB for Opera 6. But Opera said that in addition to faster page rendering, the new browser is loaded with new features.
"Our effort has been very successful," said Jon von Tetzchner, Opera's chief executive. "Most people will notice that pages will show up a lot faster. We worked very hard on the rendering engine, and this is the feedback we're getting from the beta testers."
Opera is a niche player in the browser market, gearing its business toward cell phones and other small devices whose manufacturers by and large do not want to rely on Microsoft, an operating-system competitor. Opera sells its browser for $39 and gives away a version with an advertising unit built in.
After years of competing with Microsoft's Internet Explorer and AOL Time Warner's Netscape browsers, Opera has maintained its single-digit market share and claims that its audience is growing at about 1 million new downloads per month.
Changes since Opera 7's latestwere primarily fixes to stability problems, according to Opera. One exception, which Opera calls "spatial navigation," increases the ways in which a user can navigate a Web page using the keyboard, rather than the mouse.