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Google has released a pre-beta version of Chrome 2.0 that takes the Web browser closer to its eventual support of Mac OS X and Linux.
Google on Thursday released the pre-beta, officially called 184.108.40.206, to its Dev Channel, which is where developers get a chance to take a look at possibly new features.
One change in the latest release that's sure to end up in the final version is a shift to the HTTP network protocol from the WinHTTP library on Windows. The move establishes a common code that will be a part of the Mac and Linux versions of Chrome. Google has not said when the versions would be released, but has said it's a top priority.
Mac and Linux support is the most requested feature in the Chrome update. The call for supporting other operating systems besides Windows started immediately after Google first released the browser in beta last September. Google launched the final release of Chrome 1.0 in December.
Other features in the latest release is a new WebKit, which is the open source code used to render Web pages. The new version fixes bugs and enables features like full-page zoom and auto-scroll and adds more cascading style sheet features.
Google also has added form auto-complete, which lets Chrome remember what has been typed into fields on Web pages. If a person types in the same form again, the previous entry pops up to help save time.
Another new feature is the ability to launch a new browser window that uses a different profile with different bookmarks, history, and cookies. New profiles can be named and added as a shortcut to the desktop.
As of the end of the 2008, Chrome accounted for 1% of the browser market, according to Net Applications. Microsoft's Internet Explorer accounted for 78%; Mozilla's Firefox, 21%; and Apple's Safari, nearly 8%.
InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of Google Chrome. Download the report here (registration required).
And if you haven't seen Chrome in action yet, take a spin through our Google Chrome image gallery and have a look at the browser that's being touted as a game-changer.