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Opera Browser Beta Adds Voice, More 369

An anonymous reader writes "According to an article at, the first public beta of Opera 8 is available for free download. It adds voice input/output and a host of other niceties. Key new features include improved RSS handling, fit to window or paper width, a start-bar for easy access to the most commonly used functions, and automatic update checks. The beta release supports Windows only, but a general release is scheduled for early 2005. Opera and IBM have partnered on XHTML+Voice (X+V) technology for several years, co-announcing a Multimodal Browser and Toolkit early in 2003."
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Opera Browser Beta Adds Voice, More

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  • by andreMA ( 643885 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @05:38AM (#11175411)
    So now we can hear the fat lady sing?
  • by vcv ( 526771 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @05:41AM (#11175416)
    T minus 3 posts until Firefox is mentioned. T minus 5 posts until Opera not being free is mentioned T minus 10 posts until someone calls Opera bloated. Anyone want in on a pool?

    • T minus 1 post until some misconfigured HTML shows up in your Internet Explorer and you are Own3d.
    • T minus 4 till someone points out Opera is better than Firefox. T minus 6 till the bonehead at T minus 5 is corrected and told Opera can be had for FREE, and T minus 11 till someone points out that Opera isn't bloated, it just actually has useful features.

      Ive used Opera for years without paying a dime. You don't have to pay if you don't want to, you just have a small ad at the top (which I have set to play google relavent text adds on mine). As for bloated, thats a bunch or crap. For a few megs I have
      • I'll add in - the download for Opera is, what, 3.6MB for the current version (granted, I remember it being in the 6MB region back at Preview 1, which had voice pre-downloaded). IIRC, Firefox is 4.1MB, and Opera's closest equivalent on the Moz side is SEAMONKEY, not Firefox.
    • T minus 10 posts until someone calls Opera bloated.

      Unless Opera has changed alot in the past year or two, I'm not sure how anyone can call Opera bloated without using lynx or w3m as a comparision.

      Mozilla is hefty. Firefox is decent, but seems to have memory management issues for more than a few people, including myself. Perhaps IE is smaller or faster than Opera, but one isn't significantly more bloated than the other.

  • by beeswax ( 65749 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @05:42AM (#11175419)
    I think everyone here that likes firefox should give the Opera beta a try. I've used it since yesterday and it's a top quality piece of software in my opinion.

    Firefox might be better than IE, but Opera is much nicer, faster than firefox.
    • I think everyone here that likes firefox should give the Opera beta a try. I've used it since yesterday and it's a top quality piece of software in my opinion.

      I had to do some web work a while ago and tested againsted FireFox, Opera, Safari and IE (yuck).

      Now, don't get me wrong - having Opera out there is a Good Thing since it adds more weight to the non-IE scene.

      However, while doing the design (all fully complient XHTML 1.1 and CSS 2.1), Safari and Firefox had some small off-by-one bugs in, etc which
  • by Orm ( 23588 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @05:44AM (#11175423) Homepage
    Start Opera, and start saying:
    "double-u, double-u, double-u, dot, slashdot, no.. wait... backspace, backspace, slashDOT, nooo, backspace, backspace, SLASHDOT!! NOOO, ARGHHH"
  • More coverage (Score:2, Informative)

    by kilogram ( 520192 ) []
    ZDNet [] []
    Original Opera press release []
    Changelog []
  • by Alien Venom ( 634222 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @05:48AM (#11175434) Homepage
    Linked page says Opera 7.54u1.

    Opera 8.00 Beta 1 - 2enen800b1.exe []
    Opera 8.00 Beta 1 w/o Java - 2enen800b1.exe []
  • by elfarto ( 650512 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @05:49AM (#11175439)
    Who cares about the voice thing ?? How many of the readers will care to actually speak to their browser, imagine a office full of people all talking to their browsers.. that's simply stupid.
    I think that Opera people should care most about fixing things in it's browser instead of adding features that nobody (95%) will use.
    Like M2, it simply sucks with IMAP, i was using it till i tried Thunderbird, did the switch about 5 minutes of starting it up for the first time.
    The opera forums are full with complaints, why don't Opera listen to them, i'd do so before my userbase flies right into the open (and free) arms of Firefox.
    • Have you ever heard about accessibility? I imagine there are a lot of people out there who would actually make GOOD use of this, simply because they are physically unable to use a keyboard.
    • by jesterzog ( 189797 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @06:38AM (#11175574) Homepage Journal

      I think that Opera people should care most about fixing things in it's browser instead of adding features that nobody (95%) will use.

      I think Opera Software should care about staying in business before it thinks about what most people will or won't use. In all fairness, Opera doesn't have 95% of the browser market to begin with. It never has, and it's extremely unlikely that it ever will.

      Opera (the desktop browser, at least), has primarily been a browser of choice for niche groups of users. 5% is a niche market, and much less than 5% can easily be a niche market. If Opera happens to be the only browser that satisfactorily offers what those 5% or less happen to require, it'll be succesful enough to keep the business going.

      Opera is now competing with Firefox, Konqueror (although not in Windows), and a host of others. Many of these new alternatives provide the satisfactory alternative to MSIE that Opera used to dominate in providing. Consequently, that market is diminishing, and it's probably not as viable any more because so many potential users can use something besides Opera. If Opera is to compete and survive, it's a sensible business decision to look for more points of difference to open new niche markets that aren't yet well catered for.

      You might not personally like the way Opera's going, but chances are that you have plenty of alternative options anyway. Meanwhile, if you have a need for effective voice operation of a web browser as a particular group of people do, Opera might well be your first choice if they can pull it off.

  • Since Opera is a strong competitor to Firefox in the "power user"-niche, this new release will probably spur competition in the features-arena again. Now both browsers have good RSS-support, and so on. This will in turn further broaden the feature- gap between Firefox and Internet Explorer. The MSIE will have a hard time catching up. I believe 2005 will be an pretty interesting browser year :-)
  • Output? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Cantide ( 743407 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @05:56AM (#11175463)
    It adds voice input/output

    I can't let you go to that URL, Dave.

    I know you and Frank were planning to change to Firefox, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.

    Et Cetera...
  • Talking Browsers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pawnIII ( 821440 )
    Well, this is a good idea for the blind. Though, I wonder if images will be rendered into soundwaves? For the rest of us, I much rather just type on a keyboard and read text on the screen, then having my computer screaming every word on a particular page.

    I just wonder how well the voice recognition software has become, to actually have a voice-to-website a viable solution. Considering the last time I tried using voice recognition was back '96 on an old Acer I had. Basically, you had to program every comman
  • Gmail Support (Score:5, Informative)

    by vikramrn ( 832734 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @06:01AM (#11175474)
    From the Changelog

    Support for XMLHttpRequest; Gmail Web mail is fully supported.

    Now that should get the attention of slashdotters :)
  • by bfandreas ( 603438 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @06:16AM (#11175508)
    Ummm. Do they plan to have voice output in that thing?
    If so I think I'm terribly afraid. Just imagine what happens if your browser gets hijacked by less savoury sites.

    HOT XXX PRETEEN SLUTS is bad enough as a pop-up.
    And the cavernous echoes that come with the goatse guy. Shudder.
    • Voice output is disabled by default. If you want the voice features of Opera, you have to enable it by going to Tools - Preferences - Voice and enable it. When you do so, Opera will download the 2.5MB that enables voice

      To further alleviate your "fear", Opera does not speak until instructed to by the user. The XHTML+Voice thing is mostly used to facilitate accurate voice input, so that when you want to type 'slashdot' in a form field, you won't get '/.'

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @06:22AM (#11175526) Homepage Journal
    It amazes me that, after so many years, Opera continues to lead in browser innovation. Sure, Mozilla has copied tabbed browsing, popup blocking, mouse gestures, and a few more, but Opera has so much more. Small screen rendering, WML support, slideshows, keyboard shortcuts everywhere, ... And it's a lot faster and smaller, even with mail and IRC client built in.

    And now they bring voice recognition. If they get that to work on Linux, I'll be happy to buy a couple more licenses from them.
    • I can't deny that Opera is innovative, and I thank them for that, but I have never been able to live with any of their browsers (and I've tried them often enough on a variety of platforms).

      For me, the UI is *too* polished; I wish it would stop trying to be "different" and just fit in with the system theme I've chosen. Yes it's dull, but I like it that way.

      On my 1400x1050 laptop panel the default font size is too small, even though I generally like small fonts. If I use the zoom feature, it zooms the ima
    • First, you'll only have to buy one license per household. Second, they probably WON'T get it working on Linux, as IBM pulled ViaVoice for Linux, and I think the voice output is by Microsoft Agent (NOT Embedded ViaVoice), which is a Win2K/XP only thing.
  • by zxSpectrum ( 129457 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @06:23AM (#11175531) Homepage Journal

    What also needs to be mentioned is that the Licence has changed [] for paid customers. Quoting:

    In fact, we've just given all Opera 7 customers a free upgrade, and added to this, we've changed our license terms so that there is only one license for all desktop platforms, which means that you can install Opera on any number of computers in your own home, regardless of the (desktop) operating system used. Yes, that's right. You can install the registered version of Opera as many times as you like with just a single license.

  • by ijablokov ( 225328 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @06:57AM (#11175620) Homepage
    Hi all,

    I'm the IBM program director over this product, working in partnership w/ Opera. Some quick comments: The X+V spec unifies HTML & VoiceXML and is currently undergoing the W3C process for standardization. We wrote it together w/ Motorola & Opera and have made it open. We also have an Eclipse-based SDK available at and a prototype one at that allows you to visually build these multimodal apps.

    Some of you may wonder why you should voice enable your Web content. First of all, one of my lead researchers is blind, and it's quite amazing to see how much he can accomplish today. Given that, in the future, I'm hoping a lot more content will be open to people with various disabilities.

    Secondly, how useful is your cellphone for accessing the Web? It has a small screen & limited input. Now imagine just speaking into a multimodal portal: "weather forecast", "my portfolio", "eBay bids", "any high priority mail?", "am I free tomorrow at noon?", etc. The portal understands your input & fetches relevant info, which may also be tied into location based services. 50% of you will use multimodal services by 2010; this is intended as the replacement to WAP.

    Warm regards!

    Igor Jablokov
    • by ijablokov ( 225328 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:11AM (#11175795) Homepage
      Forgot to include feedback links. :)

      Be sure to post your questions to Opera here: 7b 2a7f796603541134f9feaae4a8e1&forumid=95

      or to IBM here:

      nntp:// .m ultimodal/

      Igor Jablokov
  • with opera and firefox available, there is simply no reason to use IE on Windows. Switched to Opera 3 years ago and haven't looked back since.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24, 2004 @07:19AM (#11175670)
    Opera is many things. Before the bashing continues, however, I'd like to make a few things clear:

    - it is NOT bloated; it's a 3.5 MB download
    - it is NOT crashy
    - it is NOT bad because of flashy ads because you can look at tiny, non-flashing google ads
    - it is NOT unable to display pages propperly; it handles every webpage I'ver ever been to just fine
    - it has a much nicer, more customizable UI than Firefox
    - it is considerably faster than Firefox
    - it has everything you'd ever want in a browser suite without needing any additional downloads or plugins
    - you don't EVER have to use anything in it you don't want to, and even with email and chat turned on, it's still not bloated, and still has less of a footprint than Firefox
    - if you turn off everything except web browsing, you'll never hear from it and Opera will have even less of a foot print
    - it was well worth the $20 student price I paid for it. I rarely ever register software, and it was one of the few programs I did register without any regrets.

    Opera is a magnificent piece of software. Who cares if it's not open source? Not every god damn thing in the world needs to be open. Who cares if it costs money? They're running a business, and selling a product, and a damn good one at that. You get what you pay for. Firefox is good too, but you also get what you pay for with Firefox.
    • I can't possibly fathom anyone bashing Opera (unless they are a Linux user).

      Purchasing Opera is one of the few things I did with pride (/me growls)

      But purchasing the Linux version .. hmmmm (it felt more like a donation)

      Still its handy having a Linux version (however un-pretty) .. saves me from using a Windows-emulator to test a webpage.
  • Opera - Closed Source
    Firefox - Open Source
    Firefox: 1 Opera: 0

    Opera - $$$
    Firefox - Free beer, Free speech
    Firefox: 2 Opera: 0

    Opera - Fast
    Firefox - Not as fast
    Firefox: 2 Opera: 1

    Opera - Very large initial footprint
    Firefox - Tiny footprint
    Firefox: 3 Opera: 1

    Opera - Very long time between updates and releases
    Firefox - Fixed and updated with the speed of the open source communities non-sleeping programming hordes
    Firefox: 4 Opera: 1

    Opera - Little setup required on first install
    Firefox - Plugins and configurat
    • This is a little more fitting..

      Opera - $$$
      Firefox - Free beer, Free speech
      Firefox: 1 Opera: 0

      Opera - Fast
      Firefox - Not as fast
      Firefox: 2 Opera: 1

      Opera - Very small footprint
      Firefox - Tiny footprint as well
      Firefox: 3 Opera: 2

      Opera - Sometimes a long wait between major updates, but always major features added.
      Firefox - Updated more often since they load all of the features off onto people writing extensions.
      Firefox: 3 Opera: 2

      Opera - Little setup required on first install
      Firefox - Plugins and configurati
      • Except you forgot the 11Mb Java download that is mandatory when you install Opera. Firefox just works. I'll add that in. You also forgot to award points to Firefox for having fewer rendering problems than Opera. Sneaky. Is this typical of advocates of closed source software?

        Opera - Closed Source
        Firefox - Open Source
        Firefox: 1 Opera: 0

        Opera - $$$
        Firefox - Free beer, Free speech
        Firefox: 2 Opera: 0

        Opera - Fast
        Firefox - Not as fast
        Firefox: 2 Opera: 1

        Opera - Very large initial footprint (> 11MB inc Ja
        • Ever since I've heard of Opera, they've always had a Java and a Java-free version avalible for download. So I'm not sure what you're on about.

          And at this moment I'm download the Java-free version of the new 8 beta. It's 3.6MB. Firefox is about 4.5MB, BTW. Not that the size matters to most people that much these days.

        • by hkmwbz ( 531650 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @09:25AM (#11175969) Journal
          "Except you forgot the 11Mb Java download that is mandatory when you install Opera. Firefox just works."
          Wrong. Firefox uses the exact same Java environment as Opera does. Opera just offered a download with Java as a convenience. Without Java installed, neither Firefox nor Opera will be able to show Java applets.

          Opera 8.0 doesn't offer Java anyway, since it's installed only when needed.

          "You also forgot to award points to Firefox for having fewer rendering problems than Opera. Sneaky. Is this typical of advocates of closed source software?"
          Your FUD and lies are typical of certain Firefox zealots, and that is why I am more and more hesitant to use Firefox. I simply can't stand many of the users that keep trying to shove Firefox down people's throats with misleading statements, FUD and lies.

          Rendering problems - Firefox can't even render Slashdot correctly. How's that for "rendering problems"?

        • You lost any and all credibility with your lie about Java.

    • Ok, I get it. This is a carefully crafted troll? I can't resist biting. Sorry!

      "Opera - $$$
      Firefox - Free beer, Free speech
      Firefox: 2 Opera: 0"

      Opera is free beer.

      "Opera - Fast
      Firefox - Not as fast
      Firefox: 2 Opera: 1"

      Opera is smaller and faster than Firefox. After all, Opera fits on mobile phones. Firefox doesn't. To fit it on mobiles, it needs to be stripped down.

      "Opera - Very large initial footprint
      Firefox - Tiny footprint
      Firefox: 3 Opera: 1"

      This is a blatant lie. Opera is 3.5 MB inc

    • mmmm bias.

      opera has has extremely fast fixes for secutiry holes in their products. also, you may want to recompare the time between their major version releases (6.x,7.x,8.x). i'll bet (as i'm not sure) that opera beats the pants off mozilla. As for firefox you can even compare firefox to this as its just hit its first release version.

      isnt comparing closed source/open source a bit redundant to comparing their cost? Newly developed and closed source software almost has to "cost money" to the user unless th
  • by adolfojp ( 730818 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:44AM (#11175861)
    To achieve with Firefox the functionality that Opera offers out of the box I have to download a dozen plugins. When that is done, Firefox is very slugish and the features don't feel tightly integrated. (I am using a slow computer)

    Every feature in Opera feels very natural and intuitive, it doesn't feel bolted on. It is a beautifully refined browser and works great both on Linux and Windows. Of course, a pluggable Opera would be heaven :-).

    I still always recommend Firefox as an IE replacement, but for power users I will recommend Opera.


    About the ads. The google ads take half the screen real estate that the graphical ones take and, to be honest, I have found them to be usefull more than once.
  • Why no linux beta?

    Hmm, I'm gonna try the 8 beta in cxoffice...

    *fires up cxsetup*

    Hmm the installer works.... Installing ...

    *drums fingers*

    Hmm, it's installed. Now to see if it runs...

    $ ../storage/cxoffice/bin/opera
    wine: Unhandled exception (thread 000d), starting debugger...
    WineDbg starting on pid 0xc
    Unhandled exception: unimplemented function <br>ws2_32.dll.WSAStringToAddressW called in 32-bit code (0x42b7605c).
    In 32 bit mode.

    Damn. Guess it's back to firefox for me. I thought for a second

    • Try 7.6 Preview 4 - it's much of the same, and there's a Linux version. Also, by next week there should be Linux, FreeBSD, and MacOS ports.
  • by Heem ( 448667 )
    "Computer! : Porn : Jenna Jameson : Naked"
  • by sgtron ( 35704 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @10:34AM (#11176212)
    Since my SL6000 came with Opera I wonder if they'll make a mobile version.
  • The beta isn't available for any of my machines yet. Can someone who can try it check to see if it supports transparency in SWF (a.k.a. Flash) files yet?


  • Here [] is the changelog that list all the new features.
  • This is somewhat offtopic, but I can't seem to find this information anywhere, so I was hoping that an Opera user might know - when did Opera add tabbed browsing?

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.