Google’s Chrome web browser has received lots of attention since its release last week, but now another in a growing number of “alternative” browsers is getting ready for its next major release. The Norwegian team behind Opera today released the first beta of version 9.6, adding some new features while addressing some of the bugs found discovered in version 9.5.

Among the new features in version 9.6 there’s a way for users on the go to carry custom search engines and typed history from browser to browser, thanks to improvements to the Opera Link browser synchronization feature. There’s also a new feed preview feature that shows you the contents of an RSS feed before you subscribe, and a handy new low-bandwidth mode in Opera Mail for those users on dialup – or perhaps for those concerned about bandwidth restrictions.

Overall the general speed of the browser is supposedly improved as well. While Opera certainly has a tough road ahead competing with Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and now Chrome, this latest version should at least help the company stay in the race.