Google Chrome ditches beta label

But some users knock the move, saying 'lots of things missing'

Google dropped the beta label from its three-month-old browser today, saying that Chrome is ready for prime time.

Some users disagree.

In entries to several company blogs, Google managers trumpeted the name change. "We have removed the beta label as our goals for stability and performance have been met," said Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, in a post Thursday.

Linus Upson, a Google engineering director, joined Pichai in touting improvements to Chrome since the brower's early-September release. "Video and audio glitches were among the most common bugs fixed during the beta period," said Upson. "If you had problems watching videos with Google Chrome in the past, you should be pleasantly surprised with the performance now."

According to Mark Larson, the browser's product manager, the first non-beta release of Chrome will be tagged 1.0.154.36. Existing users will be automatically updated over the next few days, Larson said.

But calling Chrome stable doesn't necessarily make it so, several users said. In comments posted to Larson's post, they took exception to the removal of the "beta" label.

"Chrome is definitely not ready for a stable release," argued someone identified only as "William" in a comment Thursday morning . "It still has several issues just accessing some sites such as www.burningsea.com. This is quiet [sic] surprising Google would do this when they've left their other products in beta for several years."

Another user, dubbed "Operator," echoed that. "There are still a lot of things missing and you make Chrome out of Beta??? For what, just for some OEM-resellers? I still love Google, but making it Final is a little bit rushed, don't you think so?"

To their credit, Pichai and Upson said that although Chrome is out of beta, there is still lots to do. "Our work is far from done," the two said. "We are working to add some common browser features such as form auto-fill and RSS support in the near future. We are also developing an extensions platform, along with support for Mac and Linux."

Google's browser remains available only in a version that will run on Windows XP and Windows Vista; although the company has promised to create Mac- and Linux-specific versions, it has set no timetable for either.

Chrome accounted for less than 1 percent of all browsers used last month, Web metrics firm Net Applications said earlier last week, although its market share climbed slightly in November, finishing the month at 0.83 percent, up from October's 0.74 percent.

The not-beta version can be downloaded from Google's site.

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Gregg Keizer

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