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Google Rolls Chrome Out of Beta Garage

By Walaika Haskins
Dec 11, 2008 1:18 PM PT

Google released the 15th update for its Chrome Web browser and officially ended the beta testing phase for the application Thursday.

Google Rolls Chrome Out of Beta Garage

With some 10 million active users and 14 prior updates under its belt, the browser has improved its stability and performance in just 100 days, according to Google.

"Google Chrome is a better browser today thanks to the many users who sent their feedback and the many more who enabled automatic crash reports, helping us rapidly diagnose and fix issues," wrote Sundar Pichai and Linus Upson in a Google blog post.

In and Out

Chrome spent a relatively short period of time in beta status, especially considering that Google is known for taking its time with beta projects, even in its most popular offerings. Launched in September, Chrome was in beta for just three months. By comparison, Google's Gmail e-mail system began beta testing in April 2004, and more than four years later, the e-mail app is still there.

"Google said that it applies a different time frame and standard to its client software than other offerings. Google also indicated that Chrome was fairly far along when it was released in beta, which compressed the interim period as well," Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, told TechNewsWorld.

Google has not simply taken the beta label off Chrome and called it finished, he noted. There have been 14 separate updates during the beta period and a number of changes improving speed, security and stability, as well as bug fixes to address glitches with the audio and video in Chrome.

"While there could be other potential justifications or reasons for making Chrome available for general release, Google indicated to me it was because they felt the browser had progressed to a point where that was possible. Chrome also sees itself as a platform for Web applications. Firefox has a similar vision of in its future," he said.

Each product development team determines its own criteria for coming out of beta, according to Google. With Chrome, the company set standards for stability and performance and removed the beta when those standards were met.

In addition, since Google Chrome is built on the Chromium open source project, anyone can see features being developed by Google's team and the developer community, the company added.

Fast and Steady

Chrome, according to Google, now offers users better stability and plug-in performance. Video and audio glitches -- among the most common bugs addressed during the beta period -- have been fixed.

Speed has also been a focus. Since the first beta version rolled out, the V8 JavaScript engine runs 1.4 times faster on the SunSpider benchmark and 1.5 times faster on the V8 benchmark, said Google. The company plans to increase speed even more in future updates.

The bookmark manager and privacy controls have also received a boost. It's now easier to switch between another browser and Chrome with bookmark import and export features. Google also worked to give users greater control of their data. To that end, all features in Chrome that affect user privacy are grouped in one place with an explanation regarding what each one actually does.

"The browser is very fast, which is one of its core features. In addition, the tabs operate like separate browsers to prevent the entire browser from crashing if there's a problem with an individual site. The 'new tab' page offers a nice display of frequently used sites and recent bookmarks. Tabs can also be manipulated and moved around, unlike other browsers," Sterling said.


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