Google launches Chrome, Windows download now available

But Mac and Linux users have to wait their turn

Google Chrome's new tab screen shows thumbnails of the most visited sites for easy selection.

Google Chrome's new tab screen shows thumbnails of the most visited sites for easy selection.

Google launched its own Web browser Tuesday, ending years of speculation that the search giant would make its mark on the market.

The company posted Chrome, the name it's given to its in-beta browser, to its Web site just over 24 hours after it sparked a whirlwind of interest Monday by confirming it would compete against companies such as Microsoft, Mozilla and Apple, all of which distribute browsers of their own.

Chrome is only available in a version that runs under Windows XP or Windows Vista. Monday, however, a pair of Google executives, Pundar Pichai, the vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, director of engineering, said that developers are working on versions for both Mac OS X and Linux. Pichai and Upson did not offer a timeline for the release of additional editions.

The download page sports a link to a form where users who want to be notified when the Mac version is done can enter their e-mail address; there was no similar link for users interested in a Linux edition.

Google has tagged Chrome as beta, and touted it on the download page as "a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier."

More information about Chrome can be found on the Google Web site, which offers up short video clips of the browser's main feature set.

Chrome will compete against established browsers including Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari and Opera Software's Opera.

According to Web metrics vendor Net Applications, IE accounted for 72.2 percent of the browsers used last month, while Firefox and Safari owned 19.7 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively. Opera, meanwhile, accounted for less than 1 percent of the browser market in August.

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