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UPDATE 2-Google sees new browser displacing desktop software

(Adds executive comments, details, background)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Sept 2 (Reuters) - Google Inc is challenging rival Microsoft Corp MSFT.O by introducing its own Web browser that allows users to run many applications which 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, which Google made available in 43 languages in 100 countries at www.google.com/chrome, has been designed to download software and render Web pages faster than existing browsers. And it allows users to keep working even when one of its open windows crashes.

This is Google's long-anticipated bid to compete with Microsoft Corp MSFT.O, whose rival Internet Explorer dominates three-quarters of the Web browsing market. Google has backed Mozilla Corp's Firefox browser, which holds about 18 percent of the market.

Google engineers and executives call Chrome a “fresh take on the browser” -- the 15-year-old software technology that is increasingly set to replace desktop software as the primary 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.

Google’s initiative was viewed by analysts as partly a defensive move that grows out of the company’s fear that Microsoft’s recently upgraded Internet Explorer 8 could be used to lock out Google. Google’s core business of Web search and related advertising depends on browsers.

CHALLENGE TO MICROSOFT WINDOWS?

Google co-founder Sergey Brin said Chrome was designed to address the shift to using software from within a Web browser rather than as locally installed computer applications running inside Microsoft Windows or some other operating system.

“I think operating systems are kind of an old way to think of the world,” Brin told a group of reporters following the news conference at the company’s Mountain View, California headquarters. “They have become kind of bulky, they have to do lots and lots of different (legacy) things,” he said.

Google believes that any task done in a standalone desktop computer application can be delivered via the Web and Chrome is its bet that software applications can be run via a browser.

“We (Web users) want a very lightweight, fast engine for running applications,” Brin said.

“The kind of things you want to have running standalone (on a computer) are shrinking,” he said, adding that he still edits photos on his computer rather than using a Web program.

GOOGLE BORROWS FROM APPLE, FIREFOX

Chrome borrows liberally from other Web browsers running open-source software code, including Apple Inc AAPL.O and Firefox, and company officials said they planned to fully share Chrome code with other developers.

“We have borrowed good ideas from others,” Google Vice President of Product Management Sindar Pichai said. “Our goal here was to bring our point of view, but do it in a very open way.”

Because Chrome relies on Apple’s open-source WebKit software for rendering Web pages, it can run any application that runs on Apple’s Safari Web browser, Pichai said.

“If you are a Webmaster, and your site works in Apple Safari then it will work very well in Google Chrome,” he said.

Brin said Google planned to continue to work closely with Mozilla, whose primary financial backing has come from Google in recent years. He said he hoped to see future version of Chrome and Firefox become more unified over time.

“It is probably worth noting that they (Mozilla Corp) are across the street and they come over here for lunch,” Brin said of Mozilla employees’ visits to cafeterias at Google headquarters. “Mozilla has known about Chrome for some time.”

Chrome organizes information into tabbed pages. Web programs can be launched in their own dedicated windows.

Among Chrome’s features is a special privacy mode that lets users create an “incognito” window where “nothing that occurs in that window is ever logged on your computer,” according to a Google promotional guide. (Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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