Right on schedule, Opera released Opera 10 for download last week, and, as expected, it’s a solid and lively performer — no major visible changes from the late betas and release candidate builds I’ve been reporting regularly. Opera 10 has been my default browser on all three of my production Macs for the past six months or more, ever since the first public alpha level preview was released, and it’s by far the best Opera yet.
Opera, which supports the Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux platforms, is the fifth most popular browser on the planet according to NetApplications HitsLink stats for August, trailing Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Google’s as yet Windows-only Chrome. But it’s not far behind Chrome if you include the Opera Mini mobile version with the main browser suite app. Given my abiding enthusiasm for this browser, I hope that this version 10 release will enhance Opera’s prospects even further. It’s well-deserved given Opera’s history of solid innovation.
It was one of the first, if not the first, with session restore, tabbed browsing, and tab thumbnail previews. Not to mention, its Speed Dial thumbnail bookmark feature was the model for Safari 4′s Top Sites feature. Some Opera features, such as its built-in and fully integrated BitTorrent download client and mouse gestures support have not yet been adopted by Opera’s competitors, and along with Mozilla’s SeaMonkey it’s the last of the suite browsers with a built in POP 3 email client module.
Opera 10 is speedy, with Opera claiming up to 40 percent better performance on pages such as Gmail and Facebook, however my seat-of-the-pants impression is that Safari currently has the speed edge and reportedly Chrome is even faster, but Opera 10 is certainly no slouch.
In terms of looks, Opera 10 gets a fresh look and feel, and a new application icon designed by Oleg Melnychuk. The red “O” will continue to represent Opera, but has now received a facelift.