* Says new browser significantly faster, more stable
* Has 3 pct of browser market, on par with Google, Apple
By Tarmo Virki, European technology correspondent
HELSINKI, Sept 1 Norway's Opera Software (OPERA.OL) released on Tuesday a new version of its browser, Opera 10, promising faster downloads, new design and new features.
Opera battles for the spot of third-largest browser maker with Google's Chrome (GOOG.O) and Apple's Safari (AAPL.O), but is far behind Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Mozilla Foundation.
Opera said the new browser is significantly faster on resource-intensive pages such as Gmail and Facebook, and adds features like full thumbnails of all open tabs.
Opera said its Turbo feature for slow connections, which packages web pages, makes the browser up to eight times faster than rival browsers in low connection speeds.
"We have worked a lot on Opera Turbo technology and have also made major improvements on the overall product stability. This is the most stable Opera browser yet," the company said.
The companies usually release several successive test versions of their browsers so they can incorporate user feedback in a series of improvements before their final launch. Microsoft launched its latest IE8 browser in March after a year of public beta testing. [nN18309713]
Opera unveiled a public test version of the browser on June 3. [nL2300475]
Microsoft's Internet Explorer is used for about 60 percent of global Internet traffic, and Mozilla's Firefox has about 30 percent, with usage of Opera, Google and Apple all around 3 percent each, according to Web analytics firm StatCounter.
Opera has a small share of the global desktop browser market, but its browser is the most popular in countries like Russia or Ukraine, and its mobile browser is the most widely used browser on handsets. [nL2246841]
(Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
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