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Chrome Roars Out of Beta

By Anders Bylund - Updated Apr 5, 2017 at 8:02PM

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That was fast. Whatever happened to Google's endless test phases?

This Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Chrome browser must be a much bigger deal than what I thought. Now it looks like Big G wants to make serious money off its little experiment.

Sure, you're used to Google being fast. The search engine sifts through billions of Web pages to return a handful of hopefully relevant links in a fraction of a second. True, competitors like Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) also crank out results in the blink of an eye, but they get far fewer search requests per second than the worldwide market leader. So speed is nothing new in Mountain View.

But when it comes to software and services, Google tends to take its sweet time. Gmail has been around since 2004, and open to the public for nearly two years now, but it's still officially a Beta release -- software still in testing before being considered production-worthy. The Picasa image organizer only recently lost its Beta tag after four years in limbo. According to Web-monitoring company Pingdom, 45% of the company's products are in beta at the moment.

Actually, that figure just dropped a tiny bit. The Chrome browser moved out of beta and into full production mode last night.

After 15 version updates in just three months, the browser is now ready to get supported like a real business application and bundled with computer systems. It's easy to imagine someone like Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) or Hewlett-Packard (NASDAQ:HPQ) shipping laptops with this lightweight and high-performance browser, if only to put some pressure on market leader Microsoft to improve its Internet Explorer. Taking the little "beta" label off a browser might not sound like a big move, but I think it does unlock a whole new world of sales opportunities.

Chrome has come a long way since branching off from the WebKit platform that also powers Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Safari browser. And it's done so in a very short time, by Google standards. Now let's watch the bundling agreements roll in -- and then, the money.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

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