The browser was are heating up– again. Google vice president Marissa Mayer said that company’s Chrome browser is on the verge of coming out of beta, according to a report by TechCrunch. Chrome made its debut as a beta on September 2nd; for Google, a beta period of only a few months is a surprisingly short one.
Google’s applications are a likely vehicle for distributing Chrome, with Apple having paved the way for more aggressive bundling by tethering distribution of Safari to iTunes. There is also plenty of potential for high-profile promotion of Chrome at Google’s wildly popular Web properties, and the company has several hardware partners that could pre-load the browser on PCs.
Google will be leveraging Chrome to deliver the open source Native Client project, a plug-in that permits Web applications to directly access hardware resources. Let’s hope that Native Client is effectively sandboxed so it can’t be abused by hackers, so we don’t revisit the bad old days of the ubiquitous ActiveX exploit. The more Google can blur the lines between client applications and Web applications, the more competitive it will be against entrenched software. CPU intensive software will no longer have to run on the desktop. The concept of what type of application a Web application can be would be drastically changed.
Chrome is based upon the WebKit open source project, making it easier for developers to make their sites and services Chrome-friendly, because it is not something entirely new. Google is likewise providing a framework for the development of secure Firefox-like extensions for Chome. Developers could very well fall in love with Chrome, but with technologies and tools from Adobe, Microsoft, Sun, and others in the mix, not to mention HTML 5, they may have to pick their side of the battlefield. You can see why it’s in Google’s best interest to release a Chrome that’s ready for prime time sooner rather than later.