Google Chrome Emerges from Beta to Formally Challenge Microsoft IE

Google says performance and stability requirements have been met for its Chrome Web browser, which could eventually be the front door to a Google Web-based operating system to challenge Microsoft's Windows hegemony. Key features include fixes for video and audio glitches, a bookmark manager, and privacy controls. In another coup for Google application development, the fastest Web browser becomes even faster to improve users' Web services experiences.

Google Chrome officially emerged from beta Dec. 11, roughly 100 days after the search engine giant unveiled its Google Web browser.
Google is comfortable removing the beta tag from Chrome because the Web browser's goals for stability and performance have been met, Google Engineering Director Linus Upson told eWEEK in an interview before the release.
In its first 100 days, Chrome has amassed more than 10 million users worldwide, or less than 1 percent of worldwide browser market share. Although this is just a fraction of what rival browsers Microsoft Internet Explorer (70 percent), Mozilla Firefox (20 percent) and Apple Safari (less than 10 percent) rake in, it is a notable adoption rate for such a young, untested product.
That could change with the graduation of Chrome from beta to a formal release, shaped largely by suggestions, criticism and all kinds of feedback from early users, Upson said.
Chrome, already judged to be the fastest Web browser, has gotten even faster. From the first beta, Chrome's special V8 JavaScript engine ran 1.4 times faster than others on the SunSpider benchmark and 1.5 times faster on the V8 benchmark. Upson pledged even more speed down the road, but declined to provide specifics.
"Everything can always get faster," Upson said. "The stuff that the V8 guys are working on for this coming year [will be] pretty eye-popping if they're able to pull it off."
As widely reported already, Chrome now boasts a bookmark manager that lets users more easily switch between another browser and Google Chrome with the bookmark import and export features, and manage bookmarks. This is crucial for "power users" who have hundreds or even thousands of bookmarks.
Moreover, all of the features in Google Chrome that affect user privacy are now grouped in one place, with detailed explanations for each one. This has been a big issue due to concerns that Chrome features were sucking in and storing user data.
Chrome also handles audio and video plug-ins better, Upson said. In the future, Google will add form autofill and RSS support, as well as a much-requested extensions platform and vital support for Mac and Linux.
Greg Sterling of Search Engine Land spoke to Google Chrome guru Sundar Pichai for his take on other Chrome components, such as location. A miffed Om Malik sniffs at the release, noting that a less than 1 percent penetration rate won't cut it.

Those already using Google Chrome will get the newest version automatically in the next few days. Why was Google so quick to take Chrome out of the beta stage? Google products such as Gmail have spent years as betas.
Does Google feel it's urgent to make Chrome as strong as possible so it can take on IE, and perhaps Microsoft Windows, with Chrome and other application components? Read more on this in an extended Q&A with Upson and other Google engineers here.
Asked this question, Upson declined to bite, saying Chrome's cycle symbolizes Google's methodology for releasing client software:

"We have a more traditional view of beta because it's software that people install on their computers and could impact their computer and other software they use. It's different than clicking on a link, so we have a more traditional beta cycle. Users report bugs, we fix those bugs and then once we've hit our performance and stability requirements, we take the beta label off."

Google programmers launched Chrome Sept. 2 with a comic book as a marketing tool, but the portents of the product were anything but light. Chrome was immediately viewed as a would-be killer of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser; the browser could be the front door to a broader Web operating system Google is building.