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Opera has launched version 11 alpha of its desktop browser. It comes with a host of improvements, most notable of which are support for extensions and a newer version of their layout engine, Presto 2.6.37, which promises even faster performance and more features.

Opera has always been a browser which took pride in having the most number of features built-in to the browser compared to other browsers such as Firefox, which had fewer features built-in but had support for extensions which dramatically increased its functionality. A while back Google added support for extensions in Chrome and recently, even Apple did the same with Safari. Now it seems Opera has suddenly seen the value in having extensions support on their desktop browser and hence 11 alpha comes with add-on support.

Right now the number of extensions is quite low, 19 to be precise, but you can expect it to grow eventually. We found a couple of useful ones such as a YouTube video downloader and bit.ly URL shortener. When you install an add-on, it becomes available immediately just like on Chrome and Safari and you don’t have to restart the browser like in Firefox.

To know how to create extensions for Opera, visit: http://dev.opera.com/articles/view/introduction-to-opera-extensions/. Extensions can be made using common web standards, such as HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. The extensions are curated before appearing on Opera’s website.

Hopefully, the support for extension will increase the user base of the browser as it currently has the lowest market share amongst all the top browsers. To download Opera 11 alpha for your Windows, Mac or Linux PC.

Try it out

To run Opera Extensions, you’ll need an Opera 11 Labs build that supports them:

Note that the current release is an experimental labs build, therefore the implementation, architecture and design may change before the final release. If you create a complex extension, it may require updates as our APIs mature.

Once you’ve installed Opera 11 alpha you’ll be automatically directed to http://addons.labs.opera.com. This is our online catalog of extensions. Please bear in mind that both Opera 11 alpha and the online extensions catalog is under continuous development.

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