Dave Woods - Freelance Web Design Warwickshire

Opera 9.5 Kestrel Alpha

The Alpha version of Opera 9.5 was released today so I had to download it and give it a try as I have done with the latest versions of Safari 3 and Firefox 3.

When I first installed Safari 3 Beta for windows it simply wouldn’t launch and when it eventually did I got the rendering problem where none of the fonts were displayed. This week I also installed Firefox 3 Gran Paradiso Alpha and had similar problems where it simply crashes before launching, so I didn’t have high hopes for Opera Kestrel.

However, Opera 9.5 Kestrel Alpha installed fine and launched quickly without any problems which is always a good sign.

My initial impressions were that it looks exactly the same as the previous version, which shouldn’t be discouraging but I do feel somewhat let down when there’s a new version of a piece of software and it looks exactly the same.

The makers of Opera claim that there’s a 50% increase in speed compared with Opera 8 which is certainly impressive and the browser does perform well in my limited testing / surfing the web and viewing my own websites.

A big improvement is the new synchronise option which enables users to synchronise the browser with their “My Opera” account which will presumably capture things like personal settings, favourites and history. This is something that I believe is new to any browsers core functionality although I’ve personally been using the Foxmarks extension for Firefox to synchronise my favourites between home and work for a while now so whilst this thinking is a welcome addition it isn’t completely original.

There’s a few other nice touches like history search which should be useful, restoring closed windows (which Firefox already implement), new skins and improvements to the integration with Opera Mail but none of these features make me want to switch from Firefox at this present time, mainly due to the plethora of extensions available for the Mozilla browser which Peter Gasston’s review also covers.

Peter, also points out that Opera 9.5 now implements all of the CSS3 Selectors correctly which is a great development however a little disappointing that most of them can’t be used until all commonly used browsers catch up.

Lets hope that the developments are just as good with Firefox 3 (once I get the alpha to run) and the next installment of Internet Explorer (when it eventually arrives) as Opera 9.5 is certainly heading in the right direction.

Download Opera 9.5 for Windows