Study: Opera browser holds its own

Internet browser company Opera Software ASA may be small, but it's giving Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer and America Online Inc.'s Netscape a run for their money in Europe, according to a new study.

Opera's worldwide market share has more than doubled this year, Internet market research firm WebSideStory Inc. said in a statement Tuesday. As of November 29, Opera held 0.67 percent of the market, up from 0.3 percent on Jan. 1, WebSideStory said.

Growth was even more dramatic in Russia, up from about 1.5 percent to 5.88 percent. In Germany, Opera's market share grew from 1.3 percent to 3.37 percent, while in Sweden, near Opera's Norwegian home base, the company's share more than tripled, from 0.5 percent to 1.8 percent.

Opera has won recognition for its desktop browsers, which include versions for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux, especially since making them available free for download last year. Users have the option to register for a fee of US$39, which takes away the banner advertising that supports the free version.

Last week, the privately held company made available a final release of its Version 6.0 for Windows, as well as a preview version of 6.0 for Linux.

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