MOUNTAIN VIEW, California: In what could be a devastating counter-attack, news broke on Monday of Google's imminent launch of an internet browser to challenge Microsoft's Internet Explorer v.8, currently in beta-test.

Many see IE8's new 'private browsing' feature as a direct attack on Google, given that it enables users to conceal their website-hopping from Google's prying eye – thereby whipping the targeted-advertising rug from beneath the search giant's feet.

Google's new browser, branded Chrome, may or may not be a direct response to that challenge – but it sure as hell will be a thorn in Microsoft's side.

In what may or my not have been a deliberately orchestrated leak, news of the browser seeped-out Monday after a comic book commissioned by Google to explain the workings of its new baby was uploaded to the web.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff