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Google offers cutting-edge Chrome, first update

Those who want to try the latest features arriving in Google's Chrome browser can sign up for developer releases or beta versions. The first update is out of the gate.

The Google Chrome Channel Chooser lets people get the latest updates to Google's Web browser.
The Google Chrome Channel Chooser lets people get the latest updates to Google's Web browser. CNET News

Through a new developer program, Google is letting people try the latest versions of its Chrome Web browser, and the first update is available.

Those who want the newest Chrome versions can install the Google Chrome Channel Chooser software from Google's Chrome Dev Channel site. The switcher lets people choose whether they want the latest cutting-edge Chrome builds or the less frequent but more stable beta versions.

"Google Chrome now provides a way for people to get early-access releases automatically: the Dev channel," said Chrome Program Manager Mark Larson in a Chrome mailing list posting late Monday night. "The Dev channel lets you test the latest fixes and get access to new features as they're being developed. We will release new builds to the Dev channel about every week so that you can preview--and provide feedback on--what's coming in Google Chrome."

The 'About Google Chrome' dialog box lets people update to the latest version.
The 'About Google Chrome' dialog box lets people update to the latest version. CNET News

The first update available through the program, build 1251, is geared more for programmers and willing guinea pigs than for those who merely are curious.

Build 1251 fixes bugs with areas including Microsoft's Silverlight software, tab behavior, video playback with YouTube and other Flash players, and scalable vector graphics, and it suppresses full-text indexing of sites accessed with encrypted Web connections, according to the release notes. It also enables two switches that can be set when the software boots that let users activate two developmental features, new technology for networking and for managing Chrome windows.

How to update
After running the Google Chrome Channel Chooser software, users can find if there's a new version by clicking the wrench icon in the upper-right corner of the Chrome screen, then selecting "About Google Chrome." If a new version is available, users can update there, then reboot restart to enable the changes.

The newest Chrome version is
The newest Chrome version is CNET News

My update to version went smoothly--but afterward, the browser couldn't figure out whether another version was available. Instead, it said "checking for updates..." for a few minutes until I closed the dialog box.

Chrome is an open-source project, meaning that Google may draw on other work from Firefox, WebKit, and Microsoft, and that others may help Google. Judging by a couple of "thank yous" in the release notes, outsiders are in fact starting to submit patches.

Such submissions require programmers to extend copyright to Google, which means Google can have its way with the Chrome code, for example changing the open-source license under which it's offered.

Also, either Google is still hiding details of security-related Chrome fixes in the release notes, or some of the links are missing in the release notes.