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Report: Google Chrome 'coming out of beta'

Google's open-source Web browser is coming out of beta, TechCrunch reports. But when? And why not Gmail first?

Google's Chrome Web browser is coming out of beta testing, according to a TechCrunch report Wednesday.

Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of user experience, told TechCrunch's Mike Arrington as much in an interview at Le Web 08, according to the report. However, there was no word about when the move might take place.

One possibility would be to announce it Thursday at Add-on-Con, a conference about browser extensions at which Nick Baum, a product manager on Google Chrome, is scheduled to speak on a panel about the future of Web browsers. Also on the panel are Joshua Allen, senior technical evangelist for Microsoft's Internet Explorer, and Mike Shaver, vice president of engineering for Firefox builder Mozilla.

Taking the browser out of beta would doubtless fulfill Google's ambition to let business partners, such as computer makers, bundle Chrome on their systems. Google launched the first beta version in September.

However, Chrome is still rough around the edges to be a version 1.0 product. New Chrome developer releases arrive frequently to stamp out bugs. Hotmail only works with Chrome if users launch it with a particular command-line option to fool Microsoft's e-mail site into thinking it's not using Chrome. And at least for me, even Google's own Google's Zeitgeist 2008 Web site doesn't work properly in Chrome: the country-specific pop-ups are cut off at the bottom of the browser view. (The same pop-up issue arises in Internet Explorer and Safari, but not in Firefox.)

Also, although Chrome has been in development internally at Google for years, it's curious that the company would take Chrome out of beta when it's resisted the impulse to do the same with Gmail and several other high-profile projects.

Chrome works only on Windows for now, though Google is working on a Mac version and a Linux version.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Separately, Arrington reported that Mayer said Google plans to include an option in the first quarter of 2009 to turn off the new SearchWiki feature, which lets people customize their own search results.