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Chrome celebrates second b-day with sixth release

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Google is celebrating Chrome's second birthday by releasing a new stable version of its rapidly evolving browser, offering a slightly simpler user interface, an automatic form filler, and the ability to synchronize extensions and form data across machines.

The first public version of Chrome arrived on September 2, 2008, sparking a worldwide Googasm. Since then, Google has churned out six stable releases for Windows (and two for Mac and Linux). Chrome 6 arrived today — September 2, 2010 — with a celebratory blog post from Google product manager Brian Rakowski.

Rakowski claims that Chrome's JavaScript performance is now six times faster than when it made its debut. And with Chrome 6, he says, Google has worked to simplify Chrome's chrome, the stuff that surrounds the webpage itself. The browser's two menus have been combined into one. The address bar no longer shows that largely extraneous "http" prefix (an icon is used to show https). And the bookmark button has been moved to the right-hand side, next to the lone menu.

Google has also tweaked the browser's color scheme "to be easier on the eyes." And it's offering those form-filling and synchronization tools.

Next up: Chrome 7, which will offer graphics hardware acceleration and, at least on the Mac, a new tabbed-browsing interface similar to Firefox's Tab Panorama. It's just six weeks away. This summer, Google said it was switching to an ultra-rapid release cycle, something other browser makers don't necessarily agree with.

"It'll be interesting to see if anybody else than the early adopters are going to be okay with their browser changing every month and a half," Mozilla man Chris Blizzard recently said. "We prefer to take more time to prepare people for bigger interface changes. I'm actually a little bit skeptical about a six-week cycle — where do you find the time to really innovate in such a short time span? But going faster is something that we definitely would like to do too, we just have to figure out the right pace for us."

But according to the latest numbers from research outfit Net Applications, both Firefox and IE are slowly losing share to Google's browser. Chrome now stands at 7.5 per cent of the market, with Firefox at 23 per cent and IE at 60.4 per cent.

If you can't wait for Chrome to update on its own or don't have it yet, you can download the new version here. ®

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