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Tue 28 Dec 2004 04:00 AM

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Browser wars go mobile

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has further competition on its hands following the official launch of Opera Software’s browser for smartphones running the Windows OS.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has more competition on its hands following the official launch of Opera Software’s browser for smartphones running Windows Mobile 2003.

Users of Windows Mobile for Smartphone 2003 first had the chance to try Opera for Windows Mobile back in October, though the browser’s availability was not officially announced at the time. Despite this, some 43,000 users still downloaded the program. Now the new preview version of the browser, Opera 7.60 for Windows Mobile Technical Preview (TP), has been officially unveiled.

Based on Opera's latest core technology, 7.60 for Windows TP offers users speed, smooth usability and rich content display when they access the internet. The browser supports all major Web standards such as CSS2, DOM 2 and JavaScript. It also includes Opera's proprietary Small-Screen Rendering (SSR) technology, which eliminates the need for horizontal scrolling to view a page. Opera 7.60 for Windows Mobile TP is available from the Download section of opera.com.

"We want to show smartphone users what Opera is capable of right away," explained Opera Software’s CEO, Jon S. von Tetzchner. "We have released a TP for our development on the Windows Mobile platform, so that we can expand testing and get feedback on user experiences. The 7.60-based browser is unprecedented in speed and usability and we are certain that not only users will be thrilled but operators will benefit by offering their subscribers full access to the Web."

Opera also offers smartphone users a program called Mobile Accelerator, with which they can improve their internet browsing speeds. This accelerator program can be accessed by starting Opera’s mobile browser, surfing to www.opera.com/proxy and automatically accessing the free 14-day trial.

Browsers have become an increasingly hot topic over recent weeks, thanks in part to Mozilla Foundation releasing the first full version of its popular Firefox browser. Firefox 1.0, which was downloaded over eight million times while in trial form, is now freely available from Mozilla’s web site. Recent studies suggest that this browser is gradually eating away at IE’s market share as while IE still dominates the market, its estimated share has fallen from 95.5% in June 2004 to 92.9% in October. The Mozilla and Firefox browsers meanwhile have steadily increased their market share in the same period, now up to 6%, with Opera and Apple’s Safari taking the remainder.

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