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Originally published Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Google aiming browser at Microsoft; test version debuts today

Google is releasing a Web browser to compete with the likes of Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox, trying to dominate not...

Los Angeles Times

Google is releasing a Web browser to compete with the likes of Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox, trying to dominate not only what people do on the Web but also how they get there.

It's a new salvo in the intensifying battle with Microsoft, which recently released a test version of Internet Explorer 8 that makes it easier to block ads from Google and others.

A beta version of Google's browser for Windows, called Google Chrome, will debut today in more than 100 countries. It will offer features that make it easier and faster to browse the Web.

Google Chrome will be an open-source product, meaning anyone can modify the software code.

Google said it's still working on versions compatible with Apple's Mac and the Linux operating system.

The move is considered audacious, given Microsoft's dominance with the Explorer browser.

It also could spell trouble for Firefox, a free browser gaining in popularity.

Mozilla, the nonprofit organization that runs Firefox, has benefited from engineering help and money from Google. Just last week, Google and Mozilla extended their partnership through 2011.

Microsoft brushed aside the new threat in a statement Monday from Dean Hachamovitch, Internet Explorer's general manager.

"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," Hachamovitch said.

News about the Google browser, rumored for years, broke Monday after the blog Google Blogoscoped reported receiving a comic book from Google outlining the details of the browser. A Google blog post explained that it had inadvertently released the news.

The browser, which Google says was built from scratch, has been in the works for two years. It is intended as a "modern platform for Web pages and applications" that can run faster and be more responsive, according to the post.

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Google has been trying to take advantage of its search engine's popularity to loosen Microsoft's grip on how most people interact with personal computers.

The assault so far has been focused on a bundle of computer programs, including word processing and spreadsheet applications, that Google offers as an alternative to Microsoft's Office suite of products.

Google has tried to make its alternatives more appealing and accessible by hosting them for free over Internet connections instead of requiring users to pay a licensing fee to install them on individual computers

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been trying to thwart Google by investing billions in the development of its own search engine and making an unsuccessful attempt to buy Yahoo.

In a Monday blog posting, Google touted Chrome as a more sophisticated Web browser better suited for the more dynamic and interactive content blossoming on the Web as people migrate from other media.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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