The days when major browser updates were few and far between are over. Nowadays, it’s de rigeur for browser manufacturers to speed up development, which means opening up less stable builds to the masses in order to get them bug-checked as quickly as possible.
It may only enjoy a fraction of the market share afforded to rival web browsers, but Opera is by no means a poor relation to the likes of Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. In many ways it’s been a pioneer – Opera was the first major browser to use tabs and provide a speed dial for its home page, and it has always been one of the quickest browsers out there thanks to a lightweight footprint, something its rivals are only now starting to embrace. Another unique feature is a built-in mail client enabling you to combine browsing and email in one application.
Opera isn’t afraid to utilise the best bits of other browsers either – version 11 saw the debut of a slimmed down user interface pioneered by Chrome and also copied by IE9 and Firefox 4. It also brought third-party extensions to the table for the first time, along with a handy bookmarks bar.
Note that this is the legacy Opera 12.
Opera 12 is faster than ever and it's good to see that the developers spend time creating a worthy upgrade, rather than scheduling minor updates every 6 weeks, like their competitors.