Just How Big is Opera 9.5 (Kestrel) Going to Be?

Opera is an awesome company. If you were wondering where most “innovation” in the world of web browsers came from, you need look no further. Many of the features that other browsers like to claim as their own actually originated in Opera; from in-line search to tabbed Windows, Opera had all of these and many more way before Internet Explorer and Mozilla/Firefox ever knew they existed.

Opera 9.20 introduced a really nifty feature that, having tried it, you’ll find impossible to go back. Simply put, the “blank” tab page is a group of 9 screenshots of your top-nine most-visited sites. It renders the concept of “favorites” obsolete – because most people have this-is-a-good-resource-if-i-ever-need-it favorites and i-visit-this-site-every-single-day favorites. It’s a waste of time to go through the favorites menu (even the cool, new IE7 favorites sidebar/widget/utility) to find that site you visit every other time you turn on your browser, and Opera addresses this issue by making those pages just a new tab away.

We’ve been looking forward to Opera 9.5 (codename Kestrel) for a while now, and just this weekend, Opera announced that Kestrel is nearing beta-testing stages and will be available in the upcoming weeks as a weekly beta.

But just today, the Associated Press came out with some rather intriguing news: Opera’s management and board of directors have had a big shakeup in light of the poor financial performance on Opera’s behalf. While shipping any browser that used to cost money for free is almost guaranteed to have some effect on a company’s financial statements, it looks like the guys up-top at Opera aren’t hearing any of it and are looking for some big changes.

Let’s hope that Opera’s stocks start to look up, or we might be looking at a paid browser once more (a 50% drop in stocks in just a year is a lot, after all) or even worse – end up with no more Opera!

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