The first preview of Opera 7.50 has been released:
Those who have downloaded it will probably notice some big changes here and there.
The user interface is a prototype of a new redesign which we hope will make everything both easier and more flexible at the same time. We're basically experimenting with various things to see how they work out in real life. So far, there have been a lot of positive comments, and a couple of things that seem to be confusing or could be improved. Since it's just a prototype design, things will probably change before the final version is released. Please bear this in mind when giving your feedback! 😉
M2 has had a major overhaul too. The backend is rewritten to allow for full text indexing of mails, leading to very fast searches. Try to use the search field in the Mail panel and notice how results appear almost immediately, even with tens of thousands of mails. We want to test this new backend in the preview, to see what kind of problems people are having. So far, it looks quite good!
There's also a new chat client, which uses IRC for now. We hope to support more chat/IM types in the future, but IRC is a good start. We're aiming for ease of use, and are not trying to mimic mIRC or other advanced IRC clients 🙂 "Opera Chat" will eventually be a frontend which can be hooked into different kinds of chat backends, so it'll probably stay rather generic. Again, ease of use comes before complicated details that most people don't want to think about, such as the protocol being used.
You can now use spell checking in mails, Web forms and chat! Install Aspell (http://aspell.sourceforge.net/) and a dictionary and restart Opera – that's it!
Back to M2, the spam filter has turned into a learning filter. You can now mark mail as spam (right-click, "Mark as", "Mark as spam"), and Opera will learn from that. You will have to train the filter for a while, but the more training it gets, the better it gets at recognizing spam and normal mail. You can even activate learning for filters (called "views" in 7.23). Remember that to learn, you will also have to remove mail (Ctrl+X) to tell Opera what you don't want there. Also, you can add newsfeeds to Opera. They will appear in the mail panel. Select "Newsfeeds" from the Mail menu to access some newsfeeds, or add your own.
There are so many details to cover… I suggest that everyone reads the announcements in the beta forum (see link above) for more details.
One thing which has caused some confusion is that the Hotlist is gone and replaced by panels. And now, the panel selector is always visible, and F4 only toggles the panels themselves. Remember, this might change – we are just testing. But if you think the panel selectors take up a lot of space, you can disable them by right-clicking, choosing "Customize toolbars" and setting the placement to "Off".
Once disabled, you can still access the other panels from this panel selector dropdown which appears if you click the panel name:
I could probably go on about the new preview, but I'll stop here 🙂 We're reading everyone's feedback with great interest, and we'd like to learn more about what you think is bad, and also what you think is good about the new design. Head over to the beta forum and contribute with your thoughts!