An early preview of the next major version of Sleipnir, the highly-customizable Web browser developed by Japan's Fenrir, has been released and chief among the updates is support for additional European languages.
The alpha version of Sleipnir 3.0 can be downloaded from the company's Web site and comes with German, Spanish and Turkish support in addition to the Japanese and English offered in earlier releases.
The new languages correspond to requests and interests from users and signal the start of an attempt to push into the European market by the company, which is gaining market share in Japan among advanced Internet users. By the end of this year Fenrir says it will add Swedish, Hungarian, Danish and Finnish.
The alpha release also adds a simpler user interface, a new search bar, a better installer, a new default skin and a new logo for the browser: a silver horse's head, a lot like the knight in chess.
Fenrir claims a 9 percent market share in Japan for Sleipnir, which is popular because of the significant customization available to users. At the center of this is the ability to switch between the Trident or Gecko layout engines for each site visited. Trident was developed by Microsoft and is used in Internet Explorer while Gecko is used in Mozilla's Firefox.
By clicking a small button in the bottom left of the browser, users can switch between Trident and Gecko to have the best one for a particular site.
The alpha release lacks some features -- in particular support for Gecko plug-ins -- so users wanting full functionality are advised to download the current full version, 2.8.3, and wait to upgrade to version 3.0 when it is officially launched. Fenrir estimates that will be sometime in early 2009.