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Google plans Chrome Mac beta for December

Google plans to release the first beta version of its Chrome browser in early December. Be careful about changes to the extensions technology until then, though.

Google plans to release a Mac beta of Chrome in early December, judging by some chatter on a mailing list for the browser.

Chrome 4.0 is available today as a beta version for Windows but only as a rougher developer-preview version on Linux and Mac OS X. The standout feature of the new version is customization through extensions, a technology that long has been a core asset of another open-source browser, Firefox.

Google has been moving to a new extensions presentation technology called Browser Actions that let people interact with extensions through a small button toward the upper right of the browser window. "We've noticed that many of you have updated your extensions to take advantage of the new UI. We'd like to encourage the rest of you to do so as well," said Nick Baum, a Google Chrome product manager, in a mailing list posting.

But here's the hitch: Browser Actions only work on Windows and Linux right now. That means those building extensions will leave Mac Chrome users behind for a time. But in telling those developers they won't have long to wait, Baum mentioned the deadline for the beta version.

"The earlier you switch, the more time you will have to polish your experience for our Beta launch in early December," he said.

And Google is on the case for adding Browser Actions to the Mac version of Chrome.

"We realize this means dropping Mac support for a couple of weeks, but we already have people working on that," Baum said. "If you prioritize the Windows and Linux versions, we'll bring you cross-platform parity as soon as we can!"