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Opera 12 goes 64-bit, sandboxes plugins, delivers very good HTML5 compatibility

26 April 2012 1,899 views One Comment

Neither Gecko nor WebKit and definitely not Internet Explorer, Opera is beloved by a vocal minority of browser users because it’s fast and offers unique features. Part of the attraction is Opera’s strong development cycle and this release will burnish that reputation.

Norway’s Opera Software, perhaps best known for its mobile browser, has released Opera 12 (version history), which is available immediately for Mac, Linux and that other operating system. This latest whole number release brings a range of new and/or improved features:

• Opera now runs plug-ins as a separate process, allowing for more control when a plug-in misbehaves. This feature will enhance security and stability.
• The 64-bit version of Opera will offer performance improvements for some functions and allow Opera more freedom in allocating memory.
• The new Opera skinning system will allow background image, colorization, and which parts of the UI are shown to be modified.
• Numerous improvements to the address bar have been made:
• Improved address field and address bar drop-down suggestions
• Smart URL shortening in the address field drop-down
• The page title and the page excerpt will be used for full page search results
• URL and page content columns in the address field drop-down have been combined
• Hardware acceleration allows Opera to offload graphics rendering from the processor (CPU) to the graphics card (GPU), making graphics intensive operations such as animations faster.
• Unite, Widgets, and Voice are now off by default, to be phased out later
• See version history for complete listing of changes

A bit late to the 64-bit game, but welcome nonetheless. One of the cool new features that didn’t make the this time around is HTML5 drag n’ drop — look for that in an upcoming release.

That said, Opera 12 still scores a very respectable 385 out of 500 points on the HTML5 Test versus Safari (334), Firefox (345) and Chrome (400).

Get your very own cuddly copy of Opera 12 here.

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