Upstart web browser company Opera Software has launched version 6.0 of its desktop browser for Microsoft's Windows, just two weeks after it introduced a beta version at the Comdex IT trade show in Las Vegas.

The new browser runs on all versions of Windows, including the recently released XP. Opera's following the now defunct browser model of a paid-for product, something Microsoft overturned, killing Netscape in the process. Free versions will carry advertising, while a licence costs $39.

Whether a paid-for browser is anyone's cup of tea anymore is doubtful. But more than 500,000 beta copies of the software have been downloaded since its release, a record for the company, said Dean Kakridas, vice president of desktop products.

Opera for the desktop has attracted a small but growing number of enthusiasts, with some six million downloads of Version 5. But the privately held company's main hope for increasing its revenue comes from its embedded browsers for devices such as handheld computers and set-top boxes.

Among the improvements in the new version is the choice of either displaying multiple documents each in a separate window, as is the case with Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) or Netscape, or instead displaying multiple documents as tiles within the single browser window, as has been standard on earlier Opera versions.

Also new is the 'Hotclick' feature, which allows users to double-click a word or right-click a selected phrase in order to view a pop-up menu with options including search, encyclopaedia lookup and translation.

Version 6.0 for Windows, which is sponsored by advertising, is available for download from

Who's winning the browser wars?

What are you using? Here's the share of PC Advisor visitors' browsers — with no real surprises.

1 Microsoft Internet Explorer 94.93 percent

2 Netscape 3.06 percent

3 Other Netscape compatible 0.92 percent

4 MSProxy/2.0 0.28 percent

5 Lynx 0.03 percent

6 Googlebot/2.1 0.02 percent

7 Others 0.23 percent