Google Announces Launch of Web Browser

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Google will launch a new Web browser Tuesday, the search giant announced Monday on a corporate blog, further escalating Google's competition with rival Microsoft over Internet technologies.

The beta version of the open-source browser, called Google Chrome, will be available for Windows users as part of a test-run to "start the broader discussion" on the endeavor, Google said.

In the blog posting, Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, engineering director, said Google planned to launch Chrome as an attempt to "add value for users and, at the same time, help drive innovation on the web."

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"Because we spend so much time online, we began seriously thinking about what kind of browser could exist if we started from scratch and built on the best elements out there," the company officials said. "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."

They said Google Chrome aims for improved speed and responsiveness, a more powerful JavaScript engine known as V8 and improved protection from "rogue sites."

Versions of Chrome for Mac OS X and Linux were in development but not ready for release, the blog posting states.

Google officials said the project was inspired by other open-source projects, including Apple's WebKit and Mozilla's Firefox. The announcement came after weeks of speculation among bloggers across the Web.

Microsoft was quick to respond to the news of Google's browser.

"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 ... and, more than any other browsing technology, puts them in control of their personal data online," said Internet Explorer general manager Dean Hachamovitch in a statement.

John Lilly, CEO of the Mozilla Corporation, the non-profit organization which distributes and markets Firefox, was more congratulatory.

"It should come as no real surprise that Google has done something here -- their business is the Web," Lilly wrote on his official blog. "More smart people thinking about ways to make the Web good for normal human beings is good, absolutely."

The Mozilla Corporation and its parent company, the Mozilla Foundation, which develops Firefox and other open-source projects, have a financial relationship with Google which Lilly noted was just renewed through November 2011.

The Mozilla Corporation is thought to get most of its operating revenue from Google, which pays it an undisclosed amount, estimated in the tens of millions of dollars yearly, so that Google is the default search engine in Firefox.

Google also continues to be a major supporter of Wikipedia even as it develops its own online encyclopedia called Knol.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.