Could this be the browser war, mark II? Google is set to take on the likes of Microsoft IE and Mozilla Firefox by launching its own browser.

The beta of Google's web browser, called Chrome, is set to be launched later on Tuesday, in more than 100 countries, according to a blog posting. The open-source browser first appeared on an unofficial Google blog in the form of a comic book.

"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 late Monday afternoon after the Internet began buzzing about the comic-book site. 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.

Chrome will run web applications "much better," they wrote, with tabs kept in an isolated "sandbox," which will prevent "one tab from crashing into another and provide improved protection from rogue sites." 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.