AVG joins Opera on stage

Publicly tested for only a few weeks, Opera 10.60 graduates from beta with an unexpected new feature: security tech licensed from mega-popular antivirus freeware AVG.

Updated at 2:12 p.m. on July 1: Opera spokesman Thomas Ford said in an e-mail to me that he's "almost certain" that Opera's new AVG anti-malware detection system replaces the previous one that Opera used, which had been provided by Haute Secure.

The first beta of Opera 10.60 was released only two weeks ago, and on Thursday it graduates to a wide release and sheds its beta tag. Opera 10.60 for Windows, Mac, and Linux incorporates security enhancements provided by popular freeware antivirus vendor AVG, improves performance, adds further HTML5 compatibility, and makes a minor but noticeable tweak to the browser interface.

Opera users will now encounter this warning page when they try to load sites that have been identified by AVG's real-time detector as malicious.

Opera users will now encounter this warning page when they try to load sites that have been identified by AVG's real-time detector as malicious.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

The new security feature indicates that while Chrome and Firefox are looking to further isolate plug-ins and add-ons, Opera hopes to address the immediate threat from malware-infected Web sites. Opera now comes with AVG's real-time Web threat data feed built in. What this means is that when you encounter a page that's been detected by the AVG network to be malicious, you'll see the warning instead. The network is fed by data supplied anonymously by 51 million AVG users from around the world.

According to AVG's press release, the feature uses multiple techniques to protect users. It uses exploit signatures to detect sites serving drive-by downloads, the AVG Online Shield and contextual analysis to detect social engineering scam-driven viruses, and reputation lists for safeguarding against malicious domains and URLs.

Opera is also claiming the same dramatic performance improvements in version 10.60 as it did in the beta, saying that the browser is 50 percent faster than the previous version using the Peacekeeper test. CNET tests performed on the beta showed it closer to 33 percent faster on that test, which is still a massive improvement, but only 5.6 percent faster on the SunSpider JavaScript test.

Version 10.60 supports several nascent HTML5 features, including the next-generation video and audio codec WebM, geolocation compatibility, Web Workers, and App Cache. This update places Opera at or very close to parity with beta and development versions of Chrome and Firefox. Opera has also created an HTML5-geolocation-powered map showing real-time downloads and active users of Opera.

In other changes, Bing finally makes it onto Opera's default search options list, and Opera has tweaked the "O" logo menu that debuted in Opera 10.5 by adding the word "menu" to clarify what it's for. The Windows changelog, Mac changelog, and Linux changelog are available at the Opera Web site.

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