Google has released its first major version update to the Chrome browser in 2011, with the release of Chrome 9. The new browser has been in beta since the beginning of the year.

With Chrome 9, Google is debuting a trio of new features to the stable version of their Web browser including, WebGL, Chrome Instant, and the Chrome Web Store. Chrome 9 also provides nine security fixes, only two of which have been labeled by Google as having high impact.

With WebGL, Google is aiming to take advantage of graphics hardware present on many PCs. WebGL enables the browser to deliver hardware accelerated 3D graphics for a new generation of Web applications. Among the test cases that Google has built to demonstrate the power of WebGL is their new Body Browser for viewing a 3D model of the human body.

Google has also debuted Chrome Instant in the Chrome 9 stable release. Chrome Instant is an extension of the Google Instant technology that enables web searchers to rapidly get search results as they type search queries. With Chrome Instant, Web pages start loading as users being to type the URL into the browser address bar.

The Chrome Web Store also lands in the Chrome 9 stable release. Chrome Web Store is Google's attempt to sell and deliver web apps in a similar model to Apple's highly successful App Store.

On the security front, Chrome 9 fixes nine security flaws in Google's browser, two of them are rated by Google as having high impact and one is rated as critical.

Google credits social networking site Reddit and its users with the discovery of a critical race condition in Chrome's audio handling. Google Chrome developer Anthony Laforge noted in a blog post that Reddit users discovered the audio bug by playing the game 'Ztype'

Security researcher Aki Helin is credited by Google with the discovery of a high impact use-after-free memory security flaw. Helin is also credited with the discovery of a high impact crashing flaw when printing in PDF.

Google is awarding Helin $2,000 for his two high impact flaws as part of the Chromium Security Award program.

The $2,000 that Google is paying out in security rewards for Chrome 9 is a far cry from the $14,470.70 that Google paid in rewards for the Chrome stable 8.0.552.237 update in January. The Chrome 8.0.552.237 update fixed 16 different security vulnerabilities.

Google is also set to up the ante for Chrome security. As part of the upcoming PWN2OWN hacking competition, Google is offering $20,000 to the security researcher that is able to exploit Chrome at the live hacking event.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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