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November 4, 2010

Google Chrome's Version Number Is Meaningless

Google Chrome is the first browser that has a meaningless version number. Since Chrome is automatically updated, most people use the latest version of the software a few days after it's released.

Google's help articles aren't the only ones that ignore Chrome's version number. Yahoo has recently released a report that recommends developers to assume that Chrome users are running the latest version.

"Chrome has been progressing rapidly through versions, and Google has communicated its intent to continue rapid development and short release cycles. As a result, we've modified our strategy for Chrome to advise testing on the latest [generally available] release of Chrome as soon as it is issued, with prior versions moving to X-grade as soon as they are superseded."

Now that Google Chrome has a new major release every six weeks, you won't see too many new features. Chrome 7 focuses on "hundreds of bug fixes", while Chrome 8 enables the internal PDF viewer. Chrome's releases aren't exciting because the browser is constantly improving and you don't have to wait one year or more to see the new features.


  1. they probably want to catch up with IE in terms of version number :/

  2. Hope that chrome team fixed spell cheker, which isn't preforming well?!?

  3. Your claim is inaccurate.
    Google has an article that explains logic behind their browser version changes.
    Major version changes happen when there are changes to core that affect HTML rendering or execution of JavaScript, in other words, when they update WebKit or V8 engines.
    If you'll take a look at you'll see that every major version update included new version of Webkit engine and/or V8 javascript engine.
    This is the same type of logic that Firefox uses. All firefox v2 used gecko engine 1.8.1, firefox3 used gecko 1.9, firefox3.5 used gecko 1.9.1, firefox3.6 used gecko 1.9.2, firefox4 will use gecko 2.x.
    This is also the same logic as Opera uses. They change major version when they update their rendering or JavaScript engines.

    Chrome doesn't change version just for the hell of it or for marketing reasons, they are doing it for technical reasons. they are innovating and iterating much quicker than competing products.

  4. @mxx: Chrome version numbers aren't nearly as significant as those of FF or IE - I think that's what Alex Chitu meant by saying that they are meaningless.

    The (Chrome version) numbers may bear meaning to Google, developers and some power users, but certainly little to no meaning to the most of its user base.

  5. Yeah, and if they keep upgrading this way, then maybe by the time they reach version 783 it'll be as useful as Firefox. Why, you might even be able to use javascript in a bookmarklet to resize your browser window (Wow!). :D (BTW, has Chrome stopped auto-installing that Firefox plug-in for Google Update which, among other things, slows down Firefox during start-up?)

  6. Anonymous, you're acting as if Chrome is still the same browser it was 2 years ago. While it started out as a very meager humble browser, it's become, in my opinion, a bit better than Firefox.

    On the topic of this article, I do really miss the excitement that would come along with a new browser version. At the same time, I'm really happy with the rate of constant innovation on Google's part.

  7. @Anonymous (#1): We couldn't care less about IE's version number.

    mxx: Actually, we change the major version on every new branch we ship to stable, which is now on a regular schedule, completely irrespective of what WebKit or V8 versions go into it.

    --pkasting, Chromium developer

  8. After switching months ago to Chrome after the second time I tried it, I've never looked back, but I do keep Firefox pinned to the taskbar as a memory (hog).

  9. anonymous #1, what is IE ? what is that old/legacy technology ?

  10. I use Chrome, but IE9 is fast! You shouldn't judge by opinion or stereotype. Have a open mind

  11. I agree with Alex Chitu Chrome version numbers are meaningless. Firefox release Cycle is much better.Funny thing is Firfox yet to release its major version 4.0 Chrome dev 9.0 already available.
    Chrome making rapid progress in its version numbers.I don't think Google adding too many new features for every major release.

  12. @pkasting.

    Assuming you are the same pkasting referenced in this thread (, I would like to ask you a few questions.

    1. How do you feel about reconsidering FAYT as a built-in option for Chrome? I feel there are some options built-in (and off by default) like image-blocking, which I use daily, that I consider much less obvious to include over FAYT.

    2. What are the drawbacks to implementing FAYT as a built-in, off by default option?

    3. Why is FAYT, which, by the numbers, appears to be the #2 most requested won't fix issue, absent from this list:

    Thanks for your hard work. I look forward to your response.

  13. Although the upgrades are not as exciting as it used to be, finding new features and many little improvements all the time is quite nice as well!

    To me, Chrome and Firefox come head to head now, and Chrome will pass (or is passing) Firefox very soon.

  14. I think Firefox browser will be number one chrome version they give the extension for developers and the seo's

  15. I hope Chrome Developer fix the Crash report Problem.Now That kind of errors also come in Firefox 4

  16. Chrome is the only program I've ever seen that bumps an entire version number for minor changes. Right now it should be 0.8 not 8.0 (mine always says beta but it's "up to date"). At this rate, before it is actually mature enough to compete with established browsers like Firefox 3.0+, IE 7+, etc., it'll be 30.0. Are you kidding? Gimme a break, Google.

  17. @Yochanan. If it always says "beta" on the about Google Chrome window then you're on the Beta Channel of Google Chrome, not the Stable Channel. Google "how to switch channels in Google Chrome." for more info on that.

  18. Yochanan, those "minor" updates were updates that caused every other browser to attempt to catch up.
    (even Microsoft!)
    Even if those "minor" updates aren't much use now, such as HTML5, the speed updates and memory optimizations certainly are.

    And the competition it caused will be good for all of us in the decades to come when the web finally matures as a platform. (and hopefully W3C is replaced by something competent and useful)

  19. Google puts new features in every major release just it is that they are not visible to normal people as easily

    and those saying it should be optional for technical people either they don't know what technical means or they are pretending to be technical coz a technical person knows how to do that

    now am not telling you how to do that

    P.S. even normal people can search on Google to find the way!!!!!!!! ;)

  20. I've been using Chrome since the very beginning. I didn't know I'm using version 10 already till now.

  21. by the time chrom ereachs verison 100 which will be like opera 72
    it will have the same things as chrome 20 beta