Google Chrome OS, Mac browser get polished for the holidays

Google's OS is said to be a week away, and developers are putting the final touches on a public beta of the Mac version of its browser.

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Two bits from the Google Chrome camp made news this morning.

TechCrunch is reporting that Google's Chrome operating system is set to roll out for public download within a week, and CNET decoded a Google Chrome developer email to conclude that a public beta of the Google Chrome browser for Mac will arrive early next month.

First, the OS news. When Chrome OS was announced back in July, many in the tech world predicted that it would deal a major blow to Microsoft. But next week's early release (if it in fact arrives – TechCrunch cites only an anonymous source) isn't going to be Redmond's undoing. Expect a pared-down, "trial mode" experience geared at working out bugs.

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Oh, and don't expect to install Chrome OS on that new full-featured laptop or desktop. The first iteration of Chrome OS, as has been said all along, should be aimed at a small selection of netbooks.

Mac browser

Chrome has been out for PCs for more than a year, but when word of an early beta version of the browser for Mac and Linux came out in June, the official word from Chrome Product Managers Mike Smith and Karen Grunberg was "Please DON'T DOWNLOAD THEM! Unless of course you are a developer or take great pleasure in incomplete, unpredictable, and potentially crashing software."

Now CNET's Stephen Shankland, interpreting a Google message to a developer discussion list, thinks a more stable version is coming just after Cyber Monday. The evidence: Google Chrome product manager Nick Baum wrote to developers:

We've noticed that many of you have updated your extensions to take advantage of the new UI. We'd like to encourage the rest of you to do so as well. The earlier you switch, the more time you will have to polish your experience for our Beta launch in early December.

Don't be put-off by the Beta tag (heck, it took GMail years to drop the moniker). Expect next month's version to be free from all-capped disclaimers, and for it to give Safari and Firefox a run for their money. (Remember that early reviews of the buggy developer version of Chrome called it "10 percent faster than Apple's Safari 4 beta" and "60 percent faster than Mozilla’s latest Firefox.")

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See also:

Google: Free WiFi at airports this holiday season

Browser battle royale: Which should you use?

Browser security: Pwn2Own topples all but Chrome

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