On Its Second Birthday, Google Chrome Officially Hits Version 6

Ever since it became stable enough to use on a day-to-day basis on a Mac last year, Google Chrome has been my browser of choice. Other browsers have been adding some nice features — but Chrome keeps adding them faster. And today on its second birthday, that rate of change isn’t slowing down.

Google has officially rolled out Chrome 6 as the latest stable version of the browser today. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone using the dev or beta builds of the browser, but it’s nonetheless an important mark as it means it’s stable enough for mass consumption.

Remember that it was just two years ago when Google surprised the world by announcing a new browser (a little early) via a comic. The next day, we got the first shots of what the browser would look like — and it was released as a beta for Windows users. It actually looks pretty much the same today, but it’s now much, much faster (and when it launched it was already faster than most browsers out there).

Google says that Chrome today is a full three times faster when it comes to JavaScript performance versus Chrome circa 2008. The rapid speed increases have also undoubtedly pushed rival browsers to become faster, so we’ve all benefited.

Arguably more important to me is that despite adding all the new features — and extensions — Chrome still seems lightweight today. I fondly remember the good old days of 2004 when I first started using Firefox as my main browser and thinking how fresh and lightweight it felt compared to the atrocity that was IE. Firefox, sadly, got bloated over the years. So far, Chrome hasn’t put on the same weight. Here’s hoping it never does.

As I said, Chrome is also showing no signs of slowing down from a development standpoint. The browser is already in the process of morphing into version 7 as well. Chromium, the open source browser that Chrome is based on, has been hit version 7 a couple weeks ago — and the dev build of Chrome just went 7 as well. Google has said they hope to iterate every six weeks going forward.

These next few months are going to be arguably the most interesting times for the browser yet. The Chrome Web Store will soon open, bringing tightly integrated web-based apps into the browser. And then, of course, Chrome OS is due before the end of the year.

Happy birthday Chrome.

Chrome then:

Chrome now: