The new Opera might be a minor-point update, but along with the interface changes, better HTML5 support, and faster handling of secure sites, Opera humorously has noted that it's a good thing that tween pop star Justin Bieber prefers Google Chrome. Debuting Mondayday, Opera 11.60 for Windows (download), Mac (download), and Linux (download) brings Opera a step closer to version 12 and its planned hardware acceleration update.
Hardware acceleration is currently one of the major features missing from Opera that its competitors offer. It allows the browser to leverage a computer's graphics processor to cut down on page rendering times, including the rendering of complicated in-site graphics such as found in games.
Although it's not in Opera 11.60, the new version of Opera remains quite usable. The built-in mail client has been refreshed so it fits in with Opera's tweaked look, and adding multiple e-mail accounts took about 10 seconds each. Also on the interface front, the publisher has abandoned its native Windows design to favor a more universal default skin. Opera spokesman Thomas Ford said that this was so that more resources could be spent on the default look. He also predicted that most users wouldn't notice, since not many of them switched to the native Windows skin. The biggest difference between the two, he said, was that the color scheme was slightly lighter.
Looks aside, there have been some feature and functionality changes to Opera 11.60, too. Secure Web sites that load through HTTPS are expected to resolve faster because of improvements made to the code governing network connections and the new HTML5 algorithm for parsing code has been included so that the browser is compatible with more sites. A bit of new life comes to the familiar star button on the right of the location bar, as you can now use it to add a site to Speed Dial.
Opera is not exempt from the challenges facing modern browsers. While its growth on desktops has been negligible this year in terms of percentage points,Opera Mobile and Opera Mini are among the most heavily-used mobile device browsers around. The company has plans that could involve merging the two, but it faces both competition, such as from Google's attention to Chrome and Android browsers, and restrictions, such as those that Apple places on all third-party browsers on iOS.
You can check out the full changelog published by Opera.
About Seth Rosenblatt
Seth peers into the deep, dark corners of software so that you don't have to, including browsers and security on Windows, Mac, and Android. He has yet to suffer a single nightmare about OS/2, although let's face it: there are far scarier things out there besides long-dead operating systems. For instance, take the rumored Angry Birds/FarmVille crossover app...