Page last updated at 01:18 GMT, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 02:18 UK

Google launches internet browser


Google's Jessica Powell explains Chrome's new features

Google is launching an open source web browser to compete with Internet Explorer and Firefox.

The browser is designed to be fast, and to cope with the next generation of web applications that rely on graphics and multimedia.

Called Chrome, it will launch as a beta for Windows machines in 100 countries, with Mac and Linux versions to come.

"We realised... we needed to completely rethink the browser," said Google's Sundar Pichai in a blog post.

The new browser will help Google take advantage of developments it is pushing online in rich web applications that are challenging traditional desktop programs.

It's certainly the biggest news in the browser space since Firefox started to dent Internet Explorer's lead and many people see this as a re-ignition of the browser wars
Darren Waters

Google has a suite of web apps, such as Documents, Picasa and Maps which offer functionality that is beginning to replace offline software.

"What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build," Mr Pichai, VP Product Management, wrote.


The launch of a beta version of Chrome on Tuesday evening (UK time) will be Google's latest assault on Microsoft's dominance of the PC business. The firm's Internet Explorer program dominates the browser landscape, with 80% of the market.

Those already in the browser space were quick to respond to the news.

Writing in his blog, John Lilly, chief executive of Mozilla was sanguine about the new rival in the browsersphere.

"It should come as no real surprise that Google has done something here - their business is the web, and they’ve got clear opinions on how things should be, and smart people thinking about how to make things better."

Chrome will be a browser optimized for the things that they see as important, and it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves," he wrote.

Google logo
Google's new web browser incorporates open source software

He welcomed the competition and said collaboration between Mozilla and Google on certain projects would continue.

Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, was more bullish.

"The browser landscape is highly competitive, but people will choose Internet Explorer 8 for the way it puts the services they want right at their fingertips, respects their personal choices about how they want to browse and, more than any other browsing technology, puts them in control of their personal data online," he said in a statement.

For Nate Elliot, an analyst with Jupiter Research, entering the browser market is an obvious next move for Google.

"This is a much bigger undertaking than providing a Google toolbar but it feels like the natural next step," he said.

But competing with the established browser names could be harder, he thinks.

"Mozilla's Firefox is very well respected and yet it commands less than 20% of the browser market which just shows how hard it is to overtake an incumbent although Google does have almost unparallelled ability to promote it to almost the entire online audience," he said.

Chrome is now available for download.

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