Google Chrome, now minus the 'beta' part

Download Google Chrome for Windows XP and Vista from FileForum now.

Perhaps in response to a wave of blog posts commenting about how many Google products have remained officially in "beta" for so long, its Chrome browser release no longer has that moniker attached.

Despite the fact that Google's browser, now on its 15th official release, will no longer be referred to as the "beta" of the product, a statement attributed to two of the company's engineers indicates that it has not exited the development phase.

"We have removed the beta label as our goals for stability and performance have been met but our work is far from done," reads today's statement from product management VP Sundar Pichai and engineering director Linus Upson. "We are working to add some common browser features such as form autofill and RSS support in the near future."

In addition, support for Linux and Mac platforms is forthcoming, they wrote. As a result, it appears, the company will not be attaching the typical version numbers to the browser.

Because of a stay-resident component that loads into the computer's memory at startup, Chrome effectively keeps itself updated. For users who don't have software-based firewalls such as ZoneAlarm or Comodo installed, this process typically takes place in the background, without notifying the user. With firewalls installed, however, and with rules set to monitor Chrome's use of the system, users are often made aware of the fact that something in the system is pinging Google for a new edition -- in our tests, literally once every hour.

If the Google stay-resident component (which also, incidentally, monitors for new versions of other programs such as Google Toolbar) is removed from the system registry, the Chrome user can still update his product, albeit manually. The About box still offers a build number for the product, although at least for now, that's the only place Google is ever likely to mention it. The most current build as of today is, and if you download Chrome from FileForum, that's the one you'll actually get -- Google keeps only the most current version available at all times.

In a now oft-quoted statement from Google last September 24 to Network World's Paul McNamara, the meaning of "beta" is evolving, perhaps becoming less than it was, perhaps more, depending on which side of the proverbial elephant in the room you're standing next to.

"We believe beta has a different meaning when applied to applications on the Web, where people expect continual improvements in a product," the spokesperson stated. "On the Web, you don't have to wait for the next version to be on the shelf or an update to become available. Improvements are rolled out as they're developed. Rather than the packaged, stagnant software of decades past, we're moving to a world of regular updates and constant feature refinement where applications live in the cloud."

Up until today, an estimated 45% of all Google products in use by customers were given the "beta" moniker, including Gmail, a great many Google Apps, Google Video, Google Product Search (formerly Froogle), and Google Blog Search.

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