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Google removes Chrome beta tag on Mac, Linux

Chrome 5 arrives

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Google has promoted Mac and Linux versions of its Chrome browser out of beta, marking the first time the search behemoth has brought them into its fold of ready-for-prime-time releases.

Released on Tuesday, Chrome 5 brings a variety of fixes and new features to users of Windows, OS X, and Linux. Chief among them is the ability to synchronize bookmarks, browser preferences, homepages, and other settings across multiple computers. The updated browser also makes it possible to use more than 4,500 extensions in an incognito mode.

Chrome 5 also incorporates new HTML5 features, including Geolocation APIs, App Cache, web sockets, and drag-and-drop support for files.

Tuesday's announcement comes almost exactly a year after Chrome for Mac and Linux were released in alpha. With the beta tag displayed on some Google products for years, the speed suggests a higher-than-average level of commitment to these offerings. Google engineers promise the new stable versions of Chrome will deliver the same speed, stability, and performance available to Windows users.

If true, the release could help convert a new wave of browser users. With more than 70 million active users, Chrome has already leapfrogged Safari. While its usage still lags far behind Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google's ability to boast a fully-featured browser that runs on all major platforms can only help its cause.

For now, Chrome 5 won't be integrated with Adobe Flash, but Google said this will change once version 10.1 of the media player is released. With all the criticism being lobbed at Adobe over the past few months, this is probably a good thing. It also leads us to wonder if Google is aware of upcoming performance improvements to Flash that aren't known to the world at large.

People who already have Chrome installed will be auto-updated to the latest version in the near future. Downloads for all three versions are available here, and release notes for Chrome 5 are here. Notes for Chrome on Mac and Linux are here and here. ®

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