Opera to integrate widgets, BitTorrent search in next browser

Oslo (Norway) - Opera Software today announced that the next version 9 of its Opera browser will integrate a new extension that can access the BitTorrent search engine and can handle P2P downloads via its "Transfer Manager". A technical preview to be released on Tuesday will offer a first look on the BitTorrent integration.

The BitTorrent file sharing protocol was first tested by the company in a technical preview of Opera 8.02 and now becomes a standard component in the browser. Opera said that "positive user feedback and further testing" has prompted it to "maintain" BitTorrent in the upcoming browser version 9.

Users will be able to use the BitTorrent search directly from the browser interface, similar like general search engines such as Google can be accessed today. While BitTorrent users need a separate download application for files today, Opera said that its integrated Transfer Manager can handle downloads much like FTP transfers.

"Implementing BitTorrent is a natural choice, considering its efficient use of bandwidth and worldwide popularity. For users this means that they can browse and download content in an application they're familiar with," said Christen Krogh, vice president of engineering at Opera Software.

BitTorrent was first introduced by programmer Bram Cohen in 2002 and since then has developed into one of the world's most popular file sharing networks. According to estimates BitTorrent traffic currently accounts for 35% of all Internet traffic. Compared to the original file sharing concept introduced by Napster, BitTorrent does not use a central server to manage the distribution of files but allows every participant in the network to become not only a downloader, but a supplier as well. "BitTorrent is not just a concept, but has an easy-to-use implementation capable of swarming downloads across unreliable networks," Cohen writes on the BitTorrent website.

According to media reports, Opera 9 will also include about ten "widgets" - small add-on application such as a clock. Opera also will encourage users to develop their own widgets.

The technical preview of Opera 9 is expected to be released tomorrow.