A new major release of Opera includes some potentially useful features. The release notes for Opera 42.0.2393.85 provide the details:
- currency converter: highlight an amount of money on any web page to see the amount in your local currency
- faster startup times
- improvements to the built-in newsreader
Opera remains a solid alternative to the big three browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome), although it still doesn’t have a proper bookmark sidebar.
Faster startup times when re-opening multiple tabs, better use of available hardware acceleration for video, and improvements to the news reader are featured in Opera 41.0.2353.46, released on October 25.
The release notes and history for Opera are no longer being updated, so aside from announcement blog posts, finding the details for a new version involves reviewing the major version change logs. These logs include beta and developer releases, and only sometimes include the main ‘Stable’ releases. The log for Opera 41 was last updated for the version 41.0.2353.30 beta on October 19.
The previous release of Opera caused crashes on some platforms. Version 40.0.2308.62 addresses that problem.
Version 40 of alternative web browser Opera includes several major enhancements. Most notable among the changes are:
- free, unlimited, no-log browser VPN service: when turned on, the browser VPN creates a secure connection to one of Opera’s five server locations around the world;
- automatic battery saving features for mobile device users;
- Chromecast support via the Chrome extension;
- improvements to the video pop-out feature;
- the newsreader feature now supports RSS feeds;
- updated browser engine (Blink, aka WebKit).
Sadly, the folks behind Opera seem to be taking a (rather dysfunctional) page from Mozilla – at least in the way changes are reported. Release announcements for Opera are still in the same place on the Opera Desktop blog. But whereas changes in previous versions were reported in changelog posts on the desktop blog (such as this one for version 39), on a page on the Opera documentation site (which stops at version 37), and on the Opera history page (which also stops at version 37), there doesn’t seem to be anything like a change log for Opera 40. Hopefully this is a temporary issue, and something better is on the way. But I’m not holding my breath. This trend toward a general reduction in (and dumbing-down of) information provided to users is not helpful, in my opinion.
Opera is now the only major web browser that still supports Windows XP and Vista. If you’re still using either of those operating systems and browse the web, you should definitely stop using Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome, and switch to Opera. Browsing the web is dangerous enough without the added risk of using a browser that has known security vulnerabilities that will never be fixed.
Note that the most recent Opera version that supports Windows XP and Vista is 36. It wasn’t easy to find older versions on the Opera web site, but I eventually found a page that allows you to download any version by platform.
A recent update to Opera 36 addresses security issues that are specific to XP and Vista. The announcement doesn’t mention the actual new version number, but based on my research, it seems to be 36.0.2130.65.
If you’re using Opera on XP or Vista, make sure you install the new version. It should update itself automatically, but you can also download Opera 36.0.2130.65 directly.
I’ve tried to locate release notes for the new version, with no luck. According to the announcement, several security fixes previously applied to later versions were back-ported to Opera 36.