Google is challenging Microsoft with its own Web browser that lets users run many applications that once worked only when installed on local PCs, executives said on Tuesday.
Google introduced a public trial version of its new browser software, Chrome, which is designed to handle not just text and graphics, but more complex computer programs.
Chrome, available in 43 languages in 100 countries at www.google.com/chrome, has been designed to download software and Web pages faster than existing browsers. It even allows users to keep working when one of its windows crashes.
This represents Google's long-anticipated head-on attack on Microsoft and its Internet Explorer, which has three-quarters of the Web-browsing market. Google has backed Mozilla's Firefox browser, which holds about 18 percent of the market.
Google engineers and executives call Chrome a "fresh take on the browser," a 15-year-old technology that is supplanting 25-year-old desktop software as the basic way users interact with computers.
"You actually spend more time in your browser than you do in your car," said Brian Rakowski, group product manager for Google's browser project.
Chrome was seen by analysts as partly a defensive move due to Google's fear that the recently upgraded Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8) could be used to lock out Google. Google's core business of Web search and related advertising depends on browsers.
A Microsoft executive said IE 8 gives users control over how and where they navigate, improves their day-to-day browsing experience, and keeps people safe from new security threats.
"Microsoft understands that Web browsing is crucially important for hundreds of millions of people, which is why we invest in Internet Explorer so heavily," Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Internet Explorer, said in a statement.