Chromium-based Opera 15 hits beta, stripped of Mail and old extensions

Opera releases its no-Presto browser for the desktop.

Norwegian browser maker Opera has released the beta build of its new Chromium-based browser for Mac and Windows with Linux on the way "later".

Called Opera Next 15, the beta-tagged browser is the first from the vendor that relies on the Google's Blink web rendering engine in Chromium 28 rather than the old Presto engine it said it would ditch this February .

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Opera has dumped the M2 mail client from the new browser to simplify the UI and reduce its footprint, according to Opera developer Bruce Lawson. The mail client is now a standalone product called Opera Mail and is currently available as a preview build.

The browser includes some features launched as part of its Android browser, released in beta this March and in full version last week , such as Discover, a curated content discovery feature. It also carries over features from its older desktop product, such as Speed Dial, which allows people to add pages or extensions and group them into folders. 

Opera 15's read-it-later feature Stash compiles saved items for later reference and, like Chrome, the browser consolidates the address and search bar and delivers search suggestions from the address bar.

Opera Turbo data compression is now called Off-Road for browsing on slow connections. Compression occurs on Opera's servers, although HTTPS pages don't get sent to its proxy. The browser also supports Google's SPDY protocol, which it already supported on the older Opera 12.1.

With the move to Chromium, Opera has also dropped support for the extension format for Opera 11 and 12 in favour of Chromium's extension format. However, it notes that Opera 15 only supports a subset of Chromium extension APIs, as well as its own Speed Dial APIs, with more promised in future.

The new desktop browser follows last week's release of Opera 14 for Android, which was built on Chromium 26 and means it will eventually also rely on the Blink rendering engine.