Google on Chrome for Mac: "Please don't download!"

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Ah, curiosity.

What's the first thing most people will do when told explicitly not to do something? Exactly - do just that. And that's what's happened with Google Chrome for Mac, released in a special pre-beta developer preview late Thursday.

Chrome, the only browser to escape March's Pwn2Own security challenge uncompromised, had been PC-only since its release last year, leaving Mac and Linux users salivating as it racked up speed and performance accolades.

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Early reviews report the same speedy results as available on the Windows version, but offer a note of caution. Let's put it this way: if a normal browser is a Toyota Camry, this version of Chrome is a stripped-down Corvette – with no cupholders, radio, AC, turn signals, wipers, seatbelts, or, um ... doors. Better hang on!

As Chrome Product Managers Mike Smith and Karen Grunberg point out, this version lacks Flash support, privacy settings, the ability to become the default browser, and, uh, printing. But don't despair, would-be Mac Chrome user! Lots of stuff works. Michael Muchmore, writing for PC Magazine, reports that "most pages I visited displayed just fine, including, for kicks, Bing, Facebook (even the chat), and My Yahoo."

And man, is it fast. Computerworld's Greg Keizer reports that Chrome whips the Mac browser competition. Speed tests found it "10 percent faster than Apple's Safari 4 beta" and "60 percent faster than Mozilla's latest Firefox." But these speeds might decrease when the Chrome team adds in all the normal browser amenities.

Leave comments on your experiences with Chrome for Mac (or Linux) in the comments, and for more on Chrome, check out Chris Gaylord's post on the European Commission's bid to force Microsoft to bundle browsers besides Internet Explorer with copies Windows.

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