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Opera 7 Adds Power-Browsing in Beta 2

Norway-based Web browser upstart Opera has added a slew of power-browsing features in the latest beta of its flagship product, including a one-click password manager and a fast-forward browsing utility.

Opera, which is rebranding itself as "The Best Internet Experience," said Wednesday that changes in the 7.0b2 for Windows beta were aimed at speeding up browsing time. Mostly cosmetic in nature, the power-browsing upgrades includes "Fast Forward", allowing immediate access to the pages a user will want to visit next and "The Wand", a one-click log-in password manager.

The Opera browser, which is struggling in the race against Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Netscape and Mozilla to win adoption among Internet users, has also been fitted with a new links panel that quickly displays all links in the current page; a one-click skin install; a new panel management; and multiple user style sheets.

Opera spokesperson Mary Lambert held up the "Fast Forward" features as one that could be a hit with users. "A feature like Fast Forward will endear many new users. Just click 'Fast Forward' and you quickly move between pages without looking for those pesky small 'next results' or 'next page' links with your mouse," Lambert said.

With interest in Opera high among Web developers, the company is pushing a new Small-Screen Rendering (SSR) technology in the latest beta. The SSR feature lets developers test how Web pages will be rendered on small-screen devices such as PDAs and smart phones running Opera.

The Small-Screen Rendering (SSR) feature can be accessed by pressing [Shift][F11] to immediately show how a page would look on handheld devices and smaller screens.

Developers using Opera are sure to pay keen interest to the browser's new style sheets, which offers time-savers such as viewing structural elements without reverting to its source, or a simple mouse-click for the page's outline for easy debugging.

The Beta 2 also includes the new Opera rendering engine that supports W3C's DOM (Document Object Model)level 2, non-standard dynamic HTML (DHTML), CSS1 and CSS2, ECMAScript, and has improved HTML 4.01 support, as well as complete support for WML 1.3 and 2.0. It is faster, smaller and can dynamically change documents through DOM.

Opera 7 is also hyping a new e-mail client, dubbed M2, that automatically categorizes and sorts e-mail messages by contact and has a built-in spam filter. Features like QuickReply and QuickFind has been integrated to let users answer or find e-mails at quicker speeds. Opera said M2 supports POP3, IMAP, ESMTP, and threaded display of mailing lists and news servers with password authentication.

The jazzed-up Links panel has been added to the 'Hotlist' tool by default. In the panel, all the links in the current page being browsed are listed with icons for common types like images and movies. Opera said links can then be selected for quick navigation or download. In addition, a page's panel can be 'locked' to keep its particular link list available when users move over to other pages, making it possible to click the page's links when on a completely other part of the Web.

With the addition of 12 new multiple user style sheets, Opera now lets both developers and users fix design preferences. By choosing style sheets such as "Accessibility layout" or "High contrast B/W," users can in a snap modify pages for an easy read, the company said. For developers, the tool can be useful to view structural elements without constantly reverting to a page's source code.

The cosmetic upgrades also include a new user interface with 3D buttons and enhanced alpha-blended effects and the ability to use a new text-browser emulator for text browsing.

The first beta of Opera 7 was released in November. Since, then the company has expanded its presence in the Unix world with two new releases for FreeBSD and Linux. New Opera versions of the Mac OS were also released recently.