MOUNTAIN VIEW, California: Within hours of Tuesday's news that Google was set to inaugurate its own web browser, came the launch itself – a beta version of Chrome available to all comers.

In a live and web-cast presentation at Google's Californian campus, senior Googlistas highlighted those Chrome features that resemble a traditional operating system – or, in other words, that invade the mighty Microsoft's own backyard.

One such feature enables users to launch their favorite web applications, email for example, in a window that emulates a typical software program screen shorn of the usual web page fripperies.

Another OS-style feature is a "task manager," a window that keeps track of the performance of each opened web application. 

While, on firing-up, Chrome displays thumbnails of a user's most-visited pages rather than a simple 'hello' screen.

Sundar Pichai, Google's vp of product management, hypes Chrome as a new platform for web development. "The Web has clearly evolved to where people are running complex applications in the browser. It's not just a window where you show a web page." 

The new browser, which is open-source, is modelled on WebKit, software used by Apple to develop its Safari web browser.

Chrome can be downloaded by clicking here.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff