We first got wind of Opera 10 way back in December, but now six whole months on we can finally get our hands on the first public beta...
So what's new? In a nutshell lots.
Garnering the most headlines is likely to be 'Opera Turbo' - a smart compression technology which can be employed on slow connections or if a user is approaching a bandwidth cap. Opera claims Turbo will deliver pages 3/4x faster and "can offer broadband-like speeds on dial-up".
Superficially, the browser has had a facelift with famed designed Jon Hicks called in to spice up the UI. "Initially, we were just going to clean-up some elements and focus on the interface for new features," said Hicks. "But, over time, the new user interface elements became so different that we decided to update everything. Mac users in particular should enjoy this update to the default Opera skin." The new skin is a work in progress right up to release and other skins are available should it feel a little too hip (yikes, I just said 'hip' - and 'yikes').
Tabs get the once over as well since they can now be resized and should the user pull down the tab bar it will reveal full thumbnails of all open tabs (pictured). Opera Speed Dial is also tweaked to allow personalisation such as extra or enlarged grids and customisable background images. Application integration brings dedicated email and bittorent clients plus an RSS reader.
Lastly, we get the usual performance bumps and here Opera has made big gains claiming to be 40 per cent faster than v9.6 on resource intensive pages like Facebook and Gmail. The beta we saw in December was also the first browser to score 100 per cent on the Acid3 test so any web page you can throw at it should render flawlessly.
Opera 10 beta is available immediately so aficionados can race over now while Firefox, Chrome and IE users may also find find their heads turned...