Opera to ship Mac browser preview this week
MacOS X support some way off yet, though
Opera will release the first Mac public test version of its popular Web browser this Thursday. The release is based on version 5 of the browser.
The software developer dubbed the release a "technology preview", which essentially means it's still in the very early stages of testing. That said, with a wide public testing programme, bugs should be located and fixed more quickly than a closed programme would.
The preview release will run on PowerPC-based Macs running MacOS 7.5 or higher, though as yet there's no native support for MacOS X, either in Public Beta or version 1.0 form. However, Opera said that a MacOS X version is in the works, though we'll have to wait until both the PowerPC and 68k releases are done.
The preview requires Apple's Appearance Manager system software, bundled with MacOS 8.0 and up but available for download if you're running an older version of the operating system.
The final release of Opera will be made available in two forms: a shareware release or a free version that contains advertising.
Opera's claim to fame is that it's not only much smaller than the chunky efforts of Microsoft and Netscape, but it's faster and more standards-compliant too. Of course, since many Web sites are designed for, say, Internet Explorer, and so are often not standards-compliant themselves, Opera isn't a perfect alternative to the market leader. Still, it is a powerful alternative to the usual suspects and worth a look.
Mac users who don't want wait for the final version of Opera for Mac, particularly if they want an alternative to IE on MacOS X, might also like to try iCab, a Mac-only shareware browser currently under development. iCab is also remarkably compact and supports all the key Web standards. Classic MacOS PowerPC and 68k versions are also available. ®