Google launches its own web browser

Google is set to introduce on Tuesday a new web browser designed to handle more quickly video-rich or other complex web programs, posing a challenge to browsers designed originally to handle text and graphics.

Google officials confirmed news of long-rumoured plans to offer its own web-browsing software, entitled Google Chrome, in a company blog post after it mistakenly mailed details of the plan to a Google-watching blog called Blogoscoped.com.

The company statement calls the move ”a fresh take on the browser” and said it will be introducing a public trial of the web browser for Microsoft Windows users on Tuesday. Details can be found at tinyurl.com/gchrome.

The internet search leader is also working on versions for Apple Macintosh users and for Linux devices, it said.

The launch of Chrome coincides with the recent introduction by arch-rival Microsoft of its Internet Explorer 8 last month. Internet Explorer holds roughly three-quarters of the browser market, followed by Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari browsers.

Google said its engineers have borrowed from a variety of other open-source projects, including Apple’s WebKit and the Mozilla Firefox open-source browser. As a result, Google plans to make all of Chrome software code open to other developers to enhance and expand, the company said.

Built for speed
”We realised that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser,” Google’s vice-president of product management, Sindar Pichai, and engineering director Linus Upson said in a jointly authored blog post.

They said Google Chrome promises to load pages faster and more securely, but it also includes a new engine for loading interactive JavaScript code, dubbed V8, that is designed to run the next generation of not-yet-invented web applications.

”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,” Pichai and Upson wrote.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment beyond the blog post.

Microsoft said the recently upgraded version 8 of Internet Explorer offers many new privacy and user control features.

”The browser landscape is highly competitive,” Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, said in a statement.

”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.

John Lilly, chief executive of Mozilla, the organization behind the Firefox browser, said Google, which has been his non-profit organisation’s biggest financial backer for several years, had recently renewed its support until 2011.

Mozilla recently introduced its own upgraded browser, Firefox 3, and has collaborated with Google on a variety of technical issues, including a system for reporting software crashes and to make software browsers more secure.

He said in a blog post that Mozilla and Google will continue to collaborate where it makes sense for both organisations, but that Mozilla will also focus on its main mission of keeping the web open and participatory by fostering its own community-developed browser and other projects.

”With IE, Firefox, Safari, Opera et cetera — there’s been competition for a while now, and this increases that,” Lilly wrote in commenting on news of Google Chrome.

Going ‘incognito’
Google confirmed that it had prematurely mailed a copy of a promotional comic book detailing plans for Chrome to a blogger. Blogoscope‘s writer, Philipp Lenssen, scanned and published the 38-page comic.

Chrome organises information into tabbed pages. Web programs can be launched in their own dedicated windows. It also offers a variety of features to make the browser more stable and secure, according to the comic-book guide.

Among Chrome’s features is a special privacy mode that lets users create an ”incognito” window where ”nothing that occurs in that window is ever logged on your computer”. This is a read-only feature with access to one’s bookmarks of favourite sites.

Once available for testing on Tuesday, the browser will become available for download at www.google.com/chrome. — Reuters

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