In a belated celebration of Google Chrome's first birthday, Google on Sept. 15 released a stable build of its Web browser that boasts the speed bumps and features introduced in the Chrome 18.104.22.168 beta release in August.
A year ago, Google Chrome marked the search engine giant's entry into the competitive Web browser market, going up against Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari.
Google Chrome has seen a fast-slow-fast start since its launch in September 2008. The browser grabbed 1 percent of the browser market within a week, but stalled around 2 percent for several months.
Recently, thanks to word of mouth, faster innovation and buzz about the company's forthcoming Chrome Operating System, new life has been breathed into Chrome. Net Applications claims Chrome now boasts 2.84 percent market share. Greater expectations await Chrome now that Sony is bundling the browser alongside IE on Vaio laptops. Google has said it is talking with other computer makers about similar bundling deals.
Meanwhile, Chrome has been through 51 developer, 21 beta and 15 stable updates and 3,505 bug fixes in the past year, Google Chrome Program Manager Anthony Laforge claimed in a blog post on the latest stable Chrome 3.0 release.
The new new-tab page is a vast improvement over the old one, adding drag and drop capabilities so users can more easily rearrange the thumbnail images by mouse. Thumbnails can also be pinned to a spot so they don't scroll off the page as the user visits more Websites. The new-tab page also now lets users hide parts of the page they don't want to see, or view a list of most visited Websites instead of thumbnails. (Google Watch tested these changes Aug. 5.)
The Omnibox, Chrome's search and Web address bar, now includes icons to help users distinguish between suggested sites, browsing history sites, searches and bookmarks.
Also, with HTML5's star rising, this stable version of Google Chrome turns on the <video> tag in HTML5 to make embedding videos in a page as simple as embedding regular images. This also allows videos to be played back without a plug-in.
One last detail that is sure to make Apple Mac computer lovers happy: Google told Reuters it is preparing a stable build of Chrome for use on Macs by the end of 2009.