- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It was only a matter of time before Google Inc. made its long-awaited move into the Web-browser market, and that moment arrived with the search behemoth’s debut of Google Chrome on Tuesday.

The move represents the online search and advertising giant’s latest attempt to chip away at Microsoft Corp.’s software dominance, this time challenging Internet Explorer, which has a more-than-comfortable grip on the industry with a 72 percent market share as measured by research firm Net Applications during the month of August.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google billed Chrome - released the day after Labor Day as a beta version in more than 100 countries - as “a new approach to the browser that’s based on the simplicity and power that users have come to expect from Google products.”

Chrome is available as a free download for users of Windows-based operating systems. The company said it will soon offer versions of the browser for users of Apple Inc. and Linux operating systems.

The latest iteration in Google’s quest to transform all aspects of the Web experience comes one week after Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8, the latest version of its ultra-popular Web browser. Microsoft’s update is packed with new features, including a filter that highlights so-called phishing Web sites in red and new drop-down windows designed to reduce the number of steps a user must take to perform routine functions. The new Internet Explorer, available in its second test version, also offers a privacy feature that lets users temporarily suspend any recordings of their browsing histories.

To date, Google’s biggest challenge of Internet Explorer has been its backing of Firefox, which has 20 percent of the market. A product of the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, Firefox has been successful in garnering fans among the anti-Microsoft crowd.

As far as the likelihood of Chrome making a significant dent in Microsoft’s share any time soon, some analysts say it’s too soon to tell.

For its part, Microsoft said it welcomes the competition.

“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, 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,” said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Internet Explorer.

Microsoft has also in turn been trying to undercut Google’s advertising dominance.

Earlier this year, it failed in a protracted bid to take over slumping Internet firm Yahoo Inc. for $47.5 billion.