Opera has been working on their next version web browser for almost a year now. That is way too long as far as web browsers are concerned. So is the wait actually worth it?
I think, yes. Opera 12 is faster than ever, and it’s clear that the company spent a great deal of time honing its performance. Opera’s Sunspider benchmark scores were nearly identical to Chrome’s — and Opera 12 even came out ahead in a handful of tests. With Opera 12?s support for hardware rendering turned on, it beat Chrome in every category.
Opera remains speedy while surfing web pages and running apps like Gmail. Opera 12 also features a number of under-the-hood changes designed to improve the performance of pages served over SSL connections. That’s great news for users, as more and more of the web apps we use are moving to SSL by default.
Not only are you getting a faster browser with Opera 12, but you’re getting a more stable one, too. Just as Chrome and Firefox do, Opera 12 now isolates plug-ins in a separate process. Should your favorite Flash-based game lock up while you’re playing, your other tabs will remain responsive as ever.
There’s also a totally revamped theme system, support for Mozilla’s Do Not Track header, improvements to Opera’s browser extension framework, and native 64-bit support for Windows and Mac users.