File Under: Browsers

New Opera 11.60 Is Faster, Uses Less Memory

Opera software has released Opera 11.60, the latest update for the company’s flagship desktop web browser.

If you’d like to take Opera 11.60 for a spin, head on over to the Opera downloads page and grab a copy.

Originally Opera had planned to make Opera 12 its next release (see our review of the Opera 12 alpha), but the company decided to add the interim 11.60 to get some of the already completed new features out to users while work continues on the hardware acceleration in Opera 12.

The full speed boost of hardware acceleration isn’t here yet, but Opera 11.60 is still no slouch when it comes to speed. Opera says 11.60 is faster on secure pages and uses less memory on what Opera calls “advanced web applications.” Presumably that’s another way of saying JavaScript-intensive pages like Gmail or Facebook. While I didn’t notice a dramatic memory-use reduction in my testing, opening the same 15 tabs in both Opera 11.52 and 11.60 required about 30MB less memory in the latter. Not earth shattering, but a reduction nonetheless.

Even better, Opera 11.60 is considerably faster in starting up and shutting down than its predecessor.

This release features a new HTML5 parsing engine under the hood. In addition to all the new elements for developers, HTML5 specifies new rules for how browsers should handle incorrect code. Previously browsers decided for themselves what to do when something was wrong in a page (and most still do, but eventually that will change).

Among the slight visual tweaks in Opera 11.60 is a new star icon in the address field that can be used to bookmark sites or add sites to add them to your speed dial page. It looks and behaves much like what you’ll find in both Firefox and Chrome.

Opera’s often overlooked built-in e-mail client gets a makeover in 11.60. The new layout looks cleaner, is a bit easier to navigate and will feel more familiar to anyone coming from mail apps like Outlook, Mail or Thunderbird.

The revamped mail interface in Opera 11.60 (image by Opera)

One thing to note with the new mail client is that once you upgrade to 11.60 you won’t be able to downgrade if you don’t like the changes. I suggest making a backup of your Opera data folder before you upgrade.

Opera 11.60 is worth the upgrade for the speed boost and slightly reduced memory footprint. It’s also worthwhile if you use the built-in mail client. That said, it’s clearly a minor update. The next big changes for Opera won’t be along until Opera 12 which will bring full hardware acceleration and (possibly) support for the new Paged Media standard.