Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, said the firm wanted "a diverse and vibrant ecosystem".

"We want several browsers that are viable and substantial choices," he said on Tuesday during the unveiling of Chrome.

"Our business does well if there is healthy internet usage."

Google, which holds 64 per cent of the worldwide search market, is the hub of the internet's largest advertising network, generating millions of dollars in revenue.

"You only have 24 hours a day and we would like you to do more searches," Google's other co-founder, Larry Page, said at the event.

"If the browser runs well, then you will do more searches."

If successful, the move could eat into Microsoft's profits by diminishing sales of its Office software package.

Among Chrome's features is a navigation bar where users can either enter a web address or a search request that will be processed through their search engine of choice, which Google of course hopes will be itself.

Chrome is also expected to attract some users of Firefox, which has grabbed more than 10 per cent of the browser market with the help of an advertising and search alliance with Google.