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(Pocket-lint) - Alternative browser Opera has hit a milestone in its testing of version 10, and has issued a public beta for you to try out.

The update adds a new skin, Windows 7-style visual tabs, turbo compression for browsing on slow connections, auto-update to new versions, and support for Bittorrent within the browser.

The new look is the work of designer John Hicks, who joined the team recently. It's labelled as a work in progress, but arguably it already represents a significant improvement in the browser's attractiveness.

The visual tabs are pretty nifty too. Either hover over a tab to view a preview, or drag the tab bar down a bit to get a small thumbnail image of the page. Very useful for keeping track of an HD video loading on YouTube or a flash game's progress.

"Your Web browser is the most important piece of software you will ever use", Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera Software told Pocket-lint. "We think Opera 10 will redefine how you can enjoy the Web. We have more surprises on the way, but when you try the features, enjoy the accelerated performance and get a glimpse at our shiny new wrapping, I think Opera 10 beta will excite both long-time users and those new to Opera".

Check out the screenshots and if you'd like to try out the beta, then you can download it right now from opera.com/next.

Writing by Duncan Geere.