Google introduced on Tuesday a new Web browser designed to more quickly handle video-rich or other complex Web programs, posing a challenge to Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
Google officials confirmed news of long-rumored plans to offer its own Web browsing software, entitled Google Chrome, in a company blog post
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 Corp 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.
"We realized that the Web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser," Google Vice President of Product Management Sindar Pichai and Engineering Director Linus Upson said in a jointly authored blog post.
"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.
Chrome organizes 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 favorite sites.
Once available for testing on Tuesday, the browser can be downloaded at www.google.com/chrome/. Google has also designed a comic book
explaining Google Chrome.
Video-sharing for businesses
In a separate move, Google today added YouTube-like video communications features to its business application suite.
Unlike YouTube, which is aimed at consumers, Google Video for business is designed to be shared among designated users within an organization's own Web domain, protecting executive speeches, product training, sales meetings or other employee video messages from unauthorized disclosure outside the company.
Google Video for business is being incorporated into the Internet search leader's Google Apps Premier Edition, which costs $50 a user for year for a package of business software, e-mail, scheduling and Web site design capabilities.
From Septr 8, educational users of Google Apps can try out the service free for six months and will be charged $10 a user to continue using video afterward.
Unlike videoconferencing services that require specialized hardware and software installations in offices, Google Video for business users can simply trade Web site addresses to view videos as the videos are delivered from Google computers.
And unlike YouTube, which typically limits videos to less than 10 minutes, Google Video for business can run for an hour or more. The company has also developed an automated service that identifies scene transitions and creates a quick way to skip to specific segments of a video.
Administrators can give users the option to download videos to view offline or on portable devices. Google Video provides three gigabytes of video storage per Google Apps Premier user.
The videos can be used in standard quality or high-resolution formats, depending on network bandwidth. They are also available to designated corporate users of Apple's Internet phone, the iPhone, Google said.