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(Pocket-lint) - Opera has unveiled a beta of version 10.50 of its web browser. The update brings a whole host of improvements and bug fixes, as well as stripping down the interface to match the standards set by Google's Chrome browser.

The UI now features tabs in the title bar, smaller buttons, a condensed address and status bar, and an "Opera Menu" which comes down to allow you to access the functionality previously offered by the menu bar. It now has private browsing, too, accessible in that same Opera Menu.


Alongside, Opera reckons that 10.50 is "the fastest browser on Earth". We haven't run any benchmarks to test that, but it certainly feels considerably nippier than previously, and packs a new Javascript engine, a new graphics library, and an updated version of Opera's "Turbo" technology for delivering pages over slow connections.

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There's "Aero Glass" transparency in Vista and Windows 7, and Aero Peek is supported too, along with jump lists in the Windows 7 taskbar. There's also a revamped address bar, for searching and viewing bookmarks, as well as desktop widgets that behave as native applications. The browser has enhanced HTML5, full CSS 2.1 and "much of" CSS 3 support.

Opera's chief development officer, Christen Krogh, said: "We are proud today to show the results of the amazing work the team has done, and we are looking forward with great anticipation to the final release of Opera 10.50".

After being regarded for so long as the pioneer of browsers - where new functionality usually comes from - It's interesting to see Opera suddenly finding itself chasing the tail of Google Chrome, which it bears a startling resemblance to. As such, this isn't a push into the future, but a push into the present. However, that's a push that some other browsers still haven't yet made.

You can try out the beta by downloading it from opera.com/browser/next/.

Writing by Duncan Geere.