Internet browser company Opera Software has added features for tighter security and the ability to surf the Web with voice commands in the latest version of its browser, Opera 8 for Windows and Linux, launched Tuesday.
Opera, in Oslo, sees the security issue as one it can leverage to carve into Microsoft's dominance of the browser market with its Internet Explorer.
"We think that security is the reason why people would want to switch browsers," says Opera spokesperson Eskil Sivertsen.
The desktop browser gives extra information about the identity of Web sites, automatically activating an information field that gives a level of security from 1 to 3 and listing the certificate owner of the site when the user visits a secure Web site. The browser can also identify the origins of pop-up Web sites, Sivertsen says.
"The security field lets regular people check the identity of the site, which the URL matches with the security certificate," Sivertsen says. "With phishing attacks, Web site spoofing, and other forms of online fraud becoming more common, we've seen a great need for this technology."
The Opera browser can be downloaded for free, though that version comes with sponsored banner advertisements. A banner-free version is available for $39.
The previous versions of Opera have 10 million users, according to Sivertsen, but only a fraction of them, 100,000, have opted to pay for the browser.
Along with improving the speed of Opera 8, the new version comes with voice recognition and text-to-speech software, enabling a computer-generated voice to read out text highlighted by the user. It also adjusts Web content to fit a variety of screens or window sizes.