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Google bins Chrome 82 development amid coronavirus delays

Company is skipping ahead to 83, which will be promoted when Chrome 81 is out of the beta channel

Google has cancelled development of version 82 of Chrome and will instead skip ahead to Chrome 83.

Chrome 81, which was due for release on 17 March, is currently still in a beta channel and will stay there until 83 is ready to be promoted.

On Friday, the tech giant announced it had paused all work on new Chrome and Chrome OS releases as work schedules were delayed by the outbreak of COVID-19. On Monday, Jason Kersey, the director of technical program management at Google, announced that the schedule for 82 had to be dropped altogether to maintain stability.

"This is an update on our earlier decision to pause our branch and release schedule," he wrote in a Chrome discussion group for developers. "As we adapt our future milestone schedules to the current change in schedule, we have decided to skip the M82 release to ensure we keep users safe and focus all efforts on maintaining stability."

As a result, Chrome 82 is effectively dead, as Google will not be pushing its release to developers. It will no longer be tested or merged into branches or even be placed in beta. Instead, all efforts will go to moving the development channel onto Chrome 83.

Kersey added that there will be a further update later in the week with more information about future changes, which could be a regular update as the coronavirus continues to cause disruption.

Similar disruption has been felt at Microsoft, which has also paused the release of new versions of its Edge browser to remain consistent with Chrome. Version 81 was due to be released to developers on Tuesday, but that has also been paused due to COVID-19.

Both Google and Microsoft have had to force staff to work remotely, which may have limited their abilities to respond to bugs in new versions.

Google has said that security updates have been unaffected by the disruption and will still go through for Chrome OS as planned.

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