It's been two years since the first public version of Chrome appeared, but in some ways, Google's browser remains a novelty.
On Thursday, Google released the sixth stable version of Chrome (Windows | Mac | Linux), though only the second for Mac OS and Linux users.
In others' hands, it would be called Chrome 6, but Google sees things differently.
To the company, a version number is a passing milestone on an indefinitely long road to improvement. By default, the browser is updated behind the scenes and automatically, downloading new versions and installing them after a browser restart. It sees the practice as similar to how Web applications are updated constantly, usually without the user being involved and often without even being told.
This update philosophy is one of several differences that has set Chrome apart since Google inadvertently scooped its own announcement by prematurely issuing comic books describing Chrome just before its launch.
Google has attracted millions of allies. It's grown steadily to account for 7.5 percent of global browser usage, according to Net Applications' most recent statistics.
Besides numberless versions, another departure from prevailing custom was Google's idea that the browser should be as minimal a frame as possible around the content or application it's delivering. Chrome's minimal menu buttons--shrunk from two to one by the new version--its top-mounted tabs, and its lack of real estate for a status bar or search box reflect that philosophy. Programmers working on Mozilla's Firefox 4 and Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9, the new versions of the world's most-used browsers, have adopted similar goals.