For right now, the future of Opera--the browsing alternative to the browsing alternative--doesn't look a whole lot different from the present. Keeping in mind that this isn't a stable release, Opera 9.60 beta 1 for Windows and Mac looks to add a few feature tweaks and claims to be faster.
The most intriguing improvement looks to be a "low bandwidth mode" for Opera Mail. In a not-so-subtle attempt to attract users who are concerned about bandwidth restrictions, especially those who use Comcast in the United States for their ISP, this mode offers different things to IMAP and POP accounts. IMAP users will see this mode restrict mail downloads only to new messages, and will strip out attachments unless specified otherwise on a case-by-case basis. POP users will see messages truncated to the first 100 lines of a message, with the same caveat.
Another new feature called Follow/Ignore lets you set a contact to ignore, so their e-mails are never downloaded, or Follow, to focus on the messages from people that are most important to you. This doesn't delete Ignored contacts' messages from your server, but rather leaves them there so you can check them at your leisure. There's no word on how this will work with mailbox account size limits, though.
On to the browsing aspect of the browser. The feed preview rolls into Opera's RSS management a standard, stand-alone RSS app feature. The browser's synchronization service, Opera Link, now supports custom search engines and typed history. This means that if you've typed something into the search or location bar, you can now sync it to any computer that you're using.
Finally, there's the usual spate of bug fixes. Users who want to try out the current, stable version first can download Opera 9.52 for Windows and Mac from Download.com. The full changelog can be read here.