Google’s 64-bit Chrome browser took the last step before being formally released, as Google published a 64-bit beta of the browser on Wednesday morning.
If you’d like, you can visit Google’s 64-bit Chrome beta page and download the new browser; Google promises that all of your saved information (passwords, bookmarks and the like) will migrate over. (Google announced 64-bit versions of the browser in its Dev and Canary channels in June.)
Why do you need a 64-bit Chrome browser? At this point, that’s a bit of an open question. Chances are that your PC’s microprocessor and operating system (Mac, Windows, or Linux) shifted over to 64-bit technology years ago. In general, 64-bit addressing opens up the ability for software to use more than 4 gigabytes of RAM—the maximum a 32-bit application can address—plus some performance improvements.
In reality, users have migrated away from browsers like Mozilla’s Firefox because of persistent memory leaks, that continued to gobble up more and more of the user’s available memory. A move to 64-bit capability opens up a window for Chrome to take over and more and more important functions within your PC, although what they are may not be clear at the moment.
In any event, however, the beta 64-bit release of Chrome signals the inevitable final release in the so-called “stable” or release channel, most likely in about six weeks or so. Currently, users can still download a 32-bit Chrome beta, if they so choose. Will Google force users to upgrade to 64-bit Chrome by mid-September? We’ll have to wait and see.