google browser

Posts Tagged ‘browser war

The browser war is back on.

This time, Microsoft’s opponent is Google, a familiar foe.

On Tuesday, Google will release a free Web browser called Chrome that the company said would challenge Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, as well as the Firefox browser.

In a curious twist, Google made its online announcement after its plans appeared as a digital “comic book” that was posted by Google, a Web site that tracks the Internet search giant. Google said it had accidentally sent the comic book to the blog.

The browser is a universal doorway to the Internet, and the use of Internet software and services is rapidly growing. Increasingly, the browser is the gateway to the Web on cellphones and other mobile devices, widening the utility of the Web and Web advertising. Google, analysts say, cannot let Microsoft’s dominant share of the browser market go without a direct challenge.

Google already competes with Microsoft in online search and Internet advertising. They both make operating software for cellphones. Google is increasingly competing with Microsoft head-on in software that handles basic productivity like word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and e-mail programs. Google has Web-based software in these markets that are low-cost or free alternatives to Microsoft’s lucrative desktop software.

Despite the frequent clashes with Microsoft — including the role Google played in thwarting an attempted acquisition of Yahoo — Google has only come out on top in search and search advertising. But Google does not have to win the browser war. Strategically, opening yet another front against Microsoft forces it to divert resources to defend franchises.

Now, Chrome heightens the rivalry and marks a shift of course for Google, which has strongly backed Firefox, the open-source browser that has gained about a fifth of the market against the dominant Internet Explorer.

Google’s browser project has been under way for more than a year, a person close to the company said.

In a brief statement, Microsoft welcomed the new entry and expressed confidence that people would prefer Explorer, which is on every Windows PC sold.

“The browser landscape is highly competitive,” said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of the Internet Explorer group. “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.”

Google has clashed with Microsoft before, saying it had designed IE to gain ground in search, a market where Google is the runaway leader.

After Microsoft introduced IE 7 in 2006, Google complained that the browser’s search box favored Microsoft’s search service. Microsoft responded and made modifications, and a U.S. judge overseeing the antitrust consent decree against Microsoft determined the browser design was not anticompetitive.

The first round of the browser wars in the 1990s led to a sweeping U.S. antitrust suit against Microsoft for the tactics it used to stifle competition from the commercial pioneer in browsing software, Netscape Communications. A U.S. appeals court ruled in 2001 that Microsoft had repeatedly violated the nation’s antitrust laws. Microsoft later reached a settlement with the Bush administration, which included some sanctions but left the company free to bundle browsing software with Windows, which runs more than 90 percent of all personal computers.

Microsoft recently stepped up its own browser development efforts, given the increasing importance of the browser and signs that Firefox is nibbling at its lead. Microsoft released a new version, IE8, last week to generally favorable reviews.

Microsoft still holds 73 percent of the browser market, according to Net Applications, a research firm. The market share for Firefox has climbed to 19 percent, while Apple’s Safari has 6 percent.

Chrome also puts Google in competition with an ally, Mozilla Corp., which manages the Firefox project. Just last week, Google renewed its deal with Mozilla. Under the arrangement, Google Search is the home page for Firefox and Google is its default search bar, and Google makes substantial payments to Mozilla. The agreement runs through November 2011.

Google’s cooperation with Mozilla, however friendly, meant that it was ceding control of the Internet’s vital gateway technology — and the dominant supplier of that technology is its rival, Microsoft.

Given the increasing importance of the browser and its widening competition with Microsoft, Google’s entry into the market is not surprising, said John Lilly, chief executive of Mozilla.

“It would be more surprising to me if Google didn’t do something in the browser space,” Lilly said. “After all, Google is 100 percent on the Web.”