Opera Software Thursday posted a preview of its next browser, dubbed Opera 9, for Windows, Linux, and Macintosh users.
The Norwegian developer, which recently began giving away Opera in an attempt to grab more market share, said that the Preview 1 edition includes a new back-end for IMAP-based e-mail; stability improvements; support for several additional Web standards, including XSLT 1.0 and Web Forms 2.0; and several changes to the user interface to make it easier to switch from Internet Explorer or Firefox.
"We are still at an early stage in the development of Opera 9 (code-name Merlin), however, we are very excited about the next version and are releasing this to give you a taste of the new technologies and improved standards support we have been working on," wrote Tim Altman, an Opera employee, in a message to users.
Opera 9 Preview 1 also identifies itself as Opera to sites, rather than masking itself as Internet Explorer, as earlier versions of the browser do by default. That may eventually boost Opera's rankings by metrics firms that monitor market share, of which Opera has a Lilliputian 0.51 percent, according to the most recent numbers by Net Applications.
Opera 9 Preview 1 can be downloaded in versions for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X from the company's Web site.