Wii browser free for now

Opera says its Web-surfing program will be free for owners of Nintendo's next-gen system until June 2007; sold on the Wii Shop Channel after that.

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We knew the Wii would surf the World Wide Web. What we weren't aware of was whether or not we would have to pay for the privilege, and if so, how much of a wallop our wallets would sustain for the Web browser.

Opera Software, the makers of the Wii's Web-surfing software, cleared that situation up a bit today with news that its browser for the system would be free for a limited time. Gamers will be able to download the Opera browser from the Wii Shop Channel free of charge until June 2007, the company announced today.

After June 2007, the browser will be available to download for an undetermined number of Wii points, the virtual currency of the Wii Shop Channel.

The browser will support Flash and AJAX-based content, and while it will be customized for Nintendo's next-gen system, Opera promises it will have "the same complete standards support as the Opera 9 Desktop browser," with functions including bookmarks and zoom. The browser will also be designed to work specifically with the motion-sensing Wii controllers.

Opera has some experience designing a browser around Nintendo's unconventional hardware. It also created the DS browser, which integrates the stylus and touch-screen functionality into a traditional Web browser viewed across both of the system's screens. The DS browser was released earlier this year in Japan for 3,800 yen (about $32), and is scheduled to launch in Europe October 6. No US release plans for the software have been announced yet.

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