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(Pocket-lint) - Opera Software, the company behind the Opera browser, has “set loose” the beta of its latest version of the browser – Opera 11.10.

The new release, codenamed “Barracuda” comes as Internet Explorer 9 enjoys being downloaded 2.35m in the first 24 hours, and just days before the Firefox 4 release on the 22 March.

According to Opera, Barracuda inherits the streamlined design of its forebears, while its ongoing evolution has resulted in smarter features and faster performance.  

"In 2011, Opera will have a relentless focus on desktop," said Jan Standal, VP of Desktop Products, Opera Software setting out the company’s goals. "Barracuda is our first release in the new year and shows off some of our freshest ideas to make your browsing easier. And, the best part? It only gets better from here."

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Opera has added a stack of new features to the new browser including the promise of a more versatile Speed Dial mode that tries to make it even easier and faster to access your favourite sites than before.

The number of Speed Dials is now unlimited - thanks in part to a new Speed Dial flow feature, which opens new Speed Dials dynamically as you add them.

Customization options now include new layout choices, and an improved zoom slider that lets you fit even 5-column layouts comfortably in your monitor.

There is also easier plug-ins settings that can now download plug-ins automatically and install them in the background, as well as adding support for CSS3's multi-column layouts and gradients, the Web Open Font Format (WOFF) and Google's WebP image protocol.

And why Barracuda? Barracudas dart through the water with ease says Opera presumably hoping it will let you do the same to the sea of information out there on the Internet.

You can download it from today for Windows, Mac and Linux computers from http://www.opera.com/browser/next

Writing by Stuart Miles.