I have been waiting for the first Opera release of 2013 impatiently and was wondering what was going on up there in Norway and if everyone involved in the development took a month off (the last release was exactly a month ago). Part of this seems to come from the accelerated pace that companies like Google or Mozilla are pushing out new versions of their browsers, but also from Opera’s past track record.
The first Opera 12.13 snapshot has been released and is available for download for all supported operating systems but 64-bit FreeBSD. You can download 32-bit or 64-bit versions for Windows, Mac OS X or Linux and FreeBSD versions from the Opera Desktop Team website.
Opera 12.13 is a stability update to Opera which introduces two new features to the browser at the same time. According to Opera, optimizations have been done to the preferences and web storage file saves which should improve performance on sites like Twitter which makes use of this heavily.
The auto updater has been improved in Opera 12.13 and while the team is vague when it comes to what has been improved, it mentions that it should be more reliable regardless of environment and that it will make sure that users won’t be blocked from upgrading.
The second feature protects the search engine against tampering so that third party applications can’t just go ahead and change it without user consent. Opera notes that the browser may reset the search provider to the default setting when that happens. This appears to be similar to how Mozilla is handling search engine changes in Firefox. If that is correct, Opera can only revert the search engine to Google Search just like Firefox can, and not to the current default search engine.
Opera only recently added a security mechanism to the browser to block third party add-on installations in it.
Other changes include a couple of bug fixes including a bug on Google sites where the browser stopped responding.
The browser crashed a couple of times during tests and it somehow manages to get a lower HTML5 Test score than Opera 12.10. If you are not in a hurry to upgrade, I suggest you wait until the final version of Opera 12.13 is released before you consider doing so.