Google speeds up Chrome release schedule

Google plans to double the frequency of its already super-fast Chrome updates, releasing a new stable version every six weeks.

Google speeds up Chrome release schedule

The speedy cycle will not only get new features in front of users more often, but will also add predictability to the release schedule, said program manager Anthony Laforge in a post on the Chromium blog.

“We basically wanted to operate more like trains leaving Grand Central Station (regularly scheduled and always on time), and less like taxis leaving the Bronx (ad hoc and unpredictable),” he said.

Google is also looking to reduce pressure on engineers to “make” a release, saying the longer break between releases meant developers would sometimes have to wait to release features.

“With the new schedule, if a given feature is not complete, it will simply ride on the the next release train when it’s ready,” Laforge said. “Since those trains come quickly and regularly (every six weeks), there is less stress.”

Chrome already has one of the quickest refresh cycles in the business. Mozilla updates Firefox with security patches and new features at a similar pace, while Microsoft and Apple will let years lapse between major updates, although they release security patches more frequently.

Google adds a full number to each new version, no matter how small. Chrome, which was first released in September 2008, is about to hit version 6, while Firefox (which was born in 2004) has yet to hit version 4 and Microsoft has about a decade between IE6 and the soon to arrive IE9.

“Since we are going to continue to increment our major versions with every new release (ie, 6.0, 7.0, 8.0, 9.0) those numbers will start to move a little faster than before,” he said. “Please don’t read too much into the pace of version number changes – they just mean we are moving through release cycles and we are geared up to get fresher releases into your hands.”

The new release process will roll out over the next few months, Laforge said.

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