Good news: Mozilla’s Camino Project lead is hard at work on Google Chrome for Mac

Google’s new browser Chrome is amazing. How amazing? So much so that I’ve booted Microsoft Windows on my iMac two days in a row now after not using it for months. (Chrome isn’t yet available for Mac OS X, more on that below.) Does Chrome have some bugs and issues? Sure, but in terms of everyday experience I feel like I can safely say it’s the best browsing experience I’ve had on Windows since the day I switched from Internet Explorer to Firefox several years ago.

But that’s the big problem, Chrome currently only works on Windows. Google promises that both a Mac and Linux version are coming but refuses to give any indication of when that will be. That’s disheartening for us Mac users, but I have good news today.

Mike Pinkerton, the project lead for Mozilla’s Camino Project is working on bringing Chrome to the Mac for Google, he confirmed on his blog. (Pinkerton is a Google employee who does Camino on the side.) Camino is the open source web browser that was built by Mozilla team members specifically for the Mac.

Mozilla, of course, also makes the Firefox web browser, which also runs on Macs. But up until the recent version 3 release, Firefox had become increasingly bloated and cumbersome running in Apple’s OS X environment. Camino was the opposite. It’s very light weight and very quick. It doesn’t offer any of the extensions that Firefox has, but it renders pages extremely well using the Gecko rendering engine.

With Chrome, Pinkerton is switching gears and developing a browser using the WebKit engine. While at first Pinkerton admitted apprehension to switching sides as it were, he lays his thoughts out well in his post:

“I was worried for so long about what I’d say about all this and how it would be perceived and how I’d have to spin it and yadda yadda yadda, but I realized today that it’s really just about building great software and being a part of a group of people who want to make the web better, faster, safer, and easier. To move the web forward. It doesn’t matter if you’re at Google, Apple, Mozilla, or even Microsoft.”

Pinkerton has a long history in developing web browsers. He worked at Netscape in the 1990s and then teamed up with developer Dave Hyatt to make Camino. Hyatt, who Pinkerton refers to as “jinglepants” and mentions in his post, went on to work for Apple and helped develop the Safari browser — which also runs on WebKit. It seems the two will now be reunited under the WebKit roof.

Pinkerton also notes that The Camino Project will move forward. And he’ll still be at the helm. He promises that Camino version 2.0 based on Gecko 1.9 is very much underway and that alpha build status is drawing near.

This will however, likely raise more questions about Mozilla’s and Google’s relationship. Google supports Mozilla financially in exchange for benefits like Google search residing on Firefox’s default homepage. The release of Chrome raised questions about just how much Google would continue to support Mozilla, though the two sides did just recently renew their pact for 3 years.

Pinkerton’s involvement in Chrome is great news for Mac users. If you’ve never tried out Camino, give it a spin here. This team did web browsing right and now that looks as if it’ll be translated into Chrome when it launches for the Mac.

[Hat tip to Twitter user Jimmy Gleason for pointing this out.]


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