Opera, Mozilla update their Web browsers

Updated versions of the Mozilla and Opera Web browsers were released this week by the Mozilla.org open-source project and by Oslo-based Opera Software ASA, respectively, for users seeking alternatives to the industry-leading Microsoft Internet Explorer browser.

Opera announced its new Version 7.20 for Windows Thursday, claiming increased speed and performance and support for additional languages, including Arabic and Hebrew. The company said that more than 10 million copies of its Opera 7 browser have been downloaded from its Web site.

"By continuously listening closely to our users throughout Opera's development cycle over the years, we have succeeded in creating the very best browser there is," Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera, said in a statement.

Opera has a free ad-sponsored version of its browser and an ad-free version that sells for US$39.

Mozilla.org, an open-source group that supports the continuing development of the Mozilla browser, released its Version 1.5 beta on Wednesday with a host of new features, including a built-in e-mail spell checker, improvements in its ChatZilla, Internet Relay Chat client, and increased performance, stability, standards support and Web compatibility, according to the group.

The Mozilla browser is a free open-source version of the well-known Netscape Navigator and Communicator browser suite, which is now owned by America Online Inc. The source code for the Mozilla project was initially released by Netscape in early 1998.

The Mozilla browser project launched the first version of the software in June 2002.

Both browsers continue to lag far behind Microsoft Internet Explorer in popularity, though they apparently have core groups of devoted users.

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