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'Other' browser developer Opera Software intends to go to first beta of its new version, Opera 7, soon, with soon probably meaning weeks rather than days or months. Bugs permitting, naturally. The new browser, which represents an extensive rewrite, will be out first on the Windows platform, but according to a spokesman this has at least as much to do with Opera's Linux developers being on overload as with any kind of favouritism.

Tantalisingly, the other Linux work that's keeping them busy involves embedded development for the Sharp Zaurus, i.e. in the sector that's becoming far more interesting than the dull old desktop browser market.

And although the desktop versions of the browser will likely constitute the 'shop window' for some time to come, the needs of the embedded market have been a major driver behind the 7 development. According to Opera communications director Pål Hvistendahl, the focus has been on the implementation of standards, particularly DOM (Document Object Model). This will be a major benefit for embedded developers. Increased speed will also be important for lower resource devices.

Opera 7 will also feature a new layout engine, and Hvistendahl promises a competely new email client. Opera's email client so far has hovered somewhere in the 'adequate' region, so would-be Outlook refuseniks should start holding their breath now.

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