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Why the later launches of Chrome for Mac, Linux?

Google made a calculated bet on Windows for its initial browser release, but it might have made more strategic sense to start with versions for the Mac and Linux operating systems.

Google is finally acceding to customer demands for Mac and Linux versions of its open-source Chrome browser, promising to release full versions of Chrome for Mac and Linux in the first half of 2009.

According to Brian Rakowski, Chrome's product manager, more work is needed first:

That (Mac development) team now is able to render most Web pages pretty well. But in terms of the user experience, it's very basic. We have not spent any time building out features. We're still iterating on making it stable and getting the architecture right.

So progress needs to be made, but at least it's firmly on the agenda. The real question for me is, why wasn't it top of the agenda from the beginning? No offense to Windows users, but Mac and Linux users have tended to include a wide range of early adopters (especially in the Mac camp) and technically savvy people (especially in the Linux camp).

Aren't these the sorts of groups that Google would want using its software?

I understand the desire to cater to the mainstream majority that uses Internet Explorer, and I also can appreciate a subversive interest in smacking Microsoft around a little by offering a competing browser on the Windows platform, but I still find it odd to introduce a disruptive browser on that most nondisruptive of operating systems, Windows.

The evangelists live on the Mac. The geeks that will hack new extensions live on Linux. Both are devout and generally faithful to (formerly) underappreciated operating systems.

I would have started with these, but at least Google has now set a date for spreading to them.