Browser company Opera Software has released software that turns a computer into both a client and a server, allowing it to distribute content to other computers across the web.

Unite services will run in the browser, so no additional software has to be downloaded, and services will work wherever Opera works, including on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and later on mobile phones and other devices, according to a blog posting by Lawrence Eng, product analyst at Opera.

Opera has already developed services allowing friends to share files, or to contribute songs to a shared playlist of music on an online jukebox. The file-sharing service generates a direct link to the folder where the content is located. By giving that link to your friends, users can share files without routing them through a third-party web service, according to Opera.

The technology is a first step towards allowing users to connect with each other and participate meaningfully online, on their own terms, and without losing control of their data, Eng wrote.

An alpha version of Unite can be downloaded from the Opera Labs website.