Google launches Chrome for Mac, Linux - with a caveat

Google late Thursday released developer-only versions of its Chrome browser for Mac and Linux, making good on a nine-month-old promise that it would eventually add those editions to the Windows version that debuted last September.

The Mac and Linux versions are rough and unstable, warned Google. "We have early developer channel versions of Google Chrome for Mac OS X and Linux, but whatever you do, please DON'T DOWNLOAD THEM!" said Mike Smith and Karen Grunberg, a pair of Chrome product managers, in an entry to a Google blog. "Unless of course you are a developer or take great pleasure in incomplete, unpredictable, and potentially crashing software."

The new versions lack important features and functionality, Smith and Grunberg warned, including compatibility with Adobe's Flash Player plug-in and printing. A current bug list catalogs other missing pieces, ranging from a working bookmark manager -- users can bookmark pages, but there's no way to retrieve a bookmark -- to a memory leak.

Google launched Chrome Sept. 2, 2008, as a Windows-only browser, but began taking names for a notification list for Mac users that same day, and for Linux users shortly after.

Chrome accounted for approximately 1.8 percent of those used last month, according to the most recent data from Web metric company Net Applications, a surge of 27 percent from the month before.

On Windows, Chrome comes in three flavors: Google's developer, beta and stable versions, in ascending order of fit and finish. Google releases more developer preview builds than betas, which in turn accumulate until the company's satisfied with their progress enough to roll out another stable build.

"[We're] trying to get Google Chrome on these platforms stable enough for a beta release as soon as possible!" added Smith and Grunberg.

Although the two program managers acknowledged that the developer preview crashes, Computerworld ran the Mac browser for several hours without a hitch.

Both the Mac and Linux editions can be downloaded from Google's site.

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