Google has made it official: Chrome is out of beta.
As for the answer to my earlier question - Where is my Mac version? - the short answer is next year, probably the first half but no solid date, the company said. And, yes, Sergey is still popping in on the Chrome team regularly, asking about the Mac version. The team says it's hard to be more exact about a release date but that the source code is public and available and anyone can follow along with the progress to get a better idea of a release.
As for the Windows version, the reviews have mostly been favorable. The common theme is that browser, in terms of speed, beats the competition - and Google says it's gotten 1.4 times faster since the beta launch 100 days ago. Most of the issues that people were once squawking about - notably performance and stability issues around plug-ins - have largely been fixed.
A nice bonus feature is one that bundles all of the options that might impact a user's privacy in one common place. Basically, if there's a feature in Chrome that involves acessing or storing information that might identify you or something about you, it will be grouped with all of the other features that might have privacy implications so that users can find them easily and adjust the settings to their comfort levels. In a blog post, the company said:
We've taken security very seriously from the beginning and we will continue to look for ways to make Google Chrome and all browsers even more secure. Google Chrome's unique sandbox technology creates an additional layer of defense against harmful software, while the Safe Browsing feature provides protection against phishing and malware attacks for many browser users.
Just because the beta label has been removed doesn't mean the updates are finished. The team says that work continues on other features and enhancements such as form autofill and RSS feeds, which are in the works. From here on out, the updates will pretty much come as they're ready. Unlike Microsoft, which usually makes its upgrades and changes in a broad-swoop version update, Google tends to simply make the update whenever it's ready to go live.
Chrome is a free download, available here.