Google is launching a beta version of its own web browser. Chrome, which first appeared on an unofficial Google blog in the form of a comic book, will become available today in more than 100 countries, the company announced. See our Google Chrome review here.

The open-source browser will run web applications "much better", according to an official Google blog yesterday, with tabs kept in an isolated "sandbox", which will prevent "one tab from crashing into another and provide improved protection from rogue sites".

"As you may have read in the blogosphere, we hit 'send' a bit early on a comic book introducing our new open source browser, Google Chrome," the company said in the official announcement that appeared yesterday. The blog posting was by Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, engineering director.

The browser window is "streamlined and simple", they said, describing in words what can be seen visually at the unofficial blog, Google Blogoscoped. "To most people, it isn't the browser that matters. It's only a tool to run the important stuff - the pages, sites and applications that make up the web. Like the classic Google homepage, Google Chrome is clean and fast. It gets out of your way and gets you where you want to go," the blog posting said.

Better speed and responsiveness are also part of Chrome, which features "a more powerful JavaScript engine, V8, to power the next generation of web applications that aren't even possible in today's browsers."

Components from Apple's WebKit and Mozilla's Firefox are part of the open-source Chrome, they said.

Updated information about the browser and its availability will be provided at the company blog today, they said.

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