Google is taking Chrome out of Beta barely months after the its initial release and prior to completing the plugin architecture. Is Chrome ready for prime time or is Google giving it a nudge to grab a share of new computer search queries?
In an interview with Techcrunch founder Michael Arrington at Le Web 08, Google Vice President Marissa Meyer (pictured above) announced the official release of the Chrome Web browser. The official release has come just over three months after the initial test release, a record pace for a Google product.
As an example, Gmail has been in Beta since April of 2004 when the first invites started trickling out to the public. More than four years later the Google email service shows no signs of being made official.
And why should Google make its services other than search official? The company is constantly tinkering with new experimental features that users are happy to tinker with whether they’re official or not.
Unfortunately for fans of the company whose motto is, “Don’t be evil,” the only clear motivation for the move seems to be greed. Specifically, Google wants to own the search bar in the browsers of laptops and PCs that are set to be released in 2009.
Marissa Mayer cited the fact that OEMs cannot distribute Beta software along with their shiny new computing hardware as one of the reasons for the move. In the interview she never quite mentioned the millions of dollars in search query revenue that Google will make from having Chrome installed on forthcoming desktops, but she doesn’t really need to.
The only problem that I see with taking Chrome out of Beta now is that there are still major portions of the browser left unfinished. Most notably Google is in the process of implementing a plugin architecture that will allow developers to enhance the functionality of Chrome.
Plugins represent a fairly major portion of the functionality of most other browsers and are no small task to implement. If done poorly, the plugin architecture is one of the areas most likely to open security flaws and annoy users.
Chrome is an impressively fast and smooth browser for such an early release. But let’s not forget that it’s still just a few months old or pretend that it’s quite ready for mass adoption, mmkay?