Opera Software has released a beta version of its first web browser for the Windows Mobile Pocket PC.

Opera Mobile 8.5 for the Pocket PC is based on the same core as the current Opera 8.5 for desktop computers. It runs on Windows Mobile 2003 and Windows Mobile 5.0 and, like other Opera browsers for small devices, shrinks web pages to fit devices.

The beta version is available for downloadfrom Opera's website as a 45-day trial to any Windows Mobile 2003 or Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC user. The final version is expected to be released within a month, said Tod Odland, a spokesman for Opera.

The beta release was initially planned for October but had been delayed according to Odland.

Opera has recently stepped up its forays into the mobile world. In June it released Opera for Windows Mobile 2003 smartphones. In late December it formed a partnership with Google to display a Google search box on the opening page of Opera browsers for handheld devices. Later this month, Opera plans to officially launch Opera Mini, a hosted web browsing offering for mobile devices.

The bulk of Opera's revenues come from non-desktop devices including mobile devices, set top boxes and portable media players, although Opera's desktop business continues to be important because it tends to drive innovation on the browser, Odland said.