Google Chrome ∞

There is an untold general, cross-platform, inter-device rule regarding versioning: Major versions are major because they expose significant improvements and functional upgrades to the user whereas minor versions are typically either minor feature upgrades or bugfix releases.

Many projects, corporations and communities deviate from that loosely defined rule, but none do so more than Google has with Chrome. A browser that adopted the best of breed open source technology available at the time and pair it with newly developed, open source components managed to become the sweetheart of the tech community in less than two years. I started using Chrome when the first Mac and Linux versions came out, and since this spring it’s my main browser.

The other day, Update Manager on Ubuntu prompted me that Chrome 8 beta was available. Arguably, eight ‘major’ versions in two years sounds like a huge feat, but as of late I fail to see the point. Chrome 8 beta has little — if any — user-visible improvements or functional upgrades. It has none of the speed improvements that users experienced before in major-version upgrades. On my 64bit linux workstation, the only obvious difference is that they fixed some major SVG bugs that troubled me while coding the GEO|ADS analytics engine.

It seems that Google aims to exceed Version 9 before IE does, but at this rate the versioning scheme adopted by Google will become cumbersome before the end of 2011:

“Hey, I installed Chrome 26 yesterday. 1% faster Javascript execution, some obscure bug fix and a minimally redesigned arrow on the back button! yay!”

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