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Google in Chrome rebetafication

New non-release '35% faster'

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In December, just three months after a much-ballyhooed release, Google took the beta tag off its open-source Chrome operating system browser. It was an unexpected move by the Mountain View Chocolate Factory, which typically holds onto beta tags for most of eternity.

Well, after another three months, the world's largest ad broker has reintroduced a beta "release channel," seeking user feedback on a new beta that's allegedly 35 per cent faster on the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark.

So, Chrome now has three release channels: one for the latest "stable" incarnation of the browser, one for a beta, and one for a developer preview, which incorporates experimental features you won't find in the beta. Google has also launched a brand new Chrome blog, where you can read about the new beta.

The latest feedback-seeking build also offers several new tools, including automatic form-filling, full-page zoom, auto-scroll, and new code that lets view browsing tabs side-by-side after a simple drag and drop. You see it in action here:

Google has reintroduced the beta so it can give you more improvements, more often - while still maintaining a more-stable release for non-tech-types. "Getting on the beta channel means your version of Google Chrome will regularly get updated with new speed enhancements, features, and bug fixes before most users see them," Chrome product manager Brian Rakowski writes on the new Chrome blog.

"We're doing our best to quickly churn out new features as they are available rather than saving them up for occasional major releases. Riding the beta channel is a great way to let us know about what's working and what's not, but don't be surprised to find some rough edges. Also, if you're looking for an even earlier (and rougher) sneak preview of things to come, you can always move to the developer channel."

You can download the new beta here. Google has yet to offer Chrome incarnations for Mac or Linux, and the browser still lacks Firefox-like extensions. But all this is in the works. ®

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