RockMelt tiptoes into public beta

RockMelt may have exploded onto the browser scene last November, but it's just now easing itself into a beta that anybody from the public can download.

RockMelt boomed onto the alterna-browser landscape last November, grabbing some notable attention from social browsing competitor Flock but then fading from the limelight. After four months, RockMelt announced today that it's ready for the next step: entering into a public beta. That's right, this entire time the Marc Andreessen-backed, Chromium-based RockMelt beta (download for Windows | Mac) has been restricted to invitation-only.

The main RockMelt interface. Minor interface tweaks since the browser's launch include pushing the tabs up to the same level as the menu button. (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

A TechCrunch story reported that RockMelt is claiming "hundreds of thousands" of active users and that about 20 percent to 30 percent of users who downloaded RockMelt have used it at least once every seven days, both of which sound like reasonable numbers because the major browsers measure their usage in hundreds of millions of users. By comparison, competitor Flock claimed 8.5 million users in November.

RockMelt has continued to develop since then, issuing 15 updates that include a YouTube app, integrating Chromium 9, support for secure (HTTPS) RSS feeds, and tweaking the log-in process so that RockMelt completes the Facebook log-in information in the background so users can begin browsing more quickly. Your Facebook log-in is required to use RockMelt's social-networking features--otherwise, you might as well use Google Chrome, Comodo Dragon, or another Chromium-based browser.

Besides RockMelt becoming a public beta, no other changes to RockMelt version are known, since there was no changelog available at the time of writing.

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