Google, the omnipresent search firm that has managed to stretch the Internet in ways previously unimaginable, has just launched their own open-source web browser: Google Chrome. Chrome builds upon technologies developed by other open source projects, like the Apple-led WebKit effort (which is used as the core renderer) and other technologies that originated at Mozilla and elsewhere, but also brings several innovative features of its own. Because Chrome is open source (BSD License), its most innovative features and technologies can be used by other browsers like Firefox, Safari, and even proprietary browsers like Internet Explorer and Opera.

Chrome uses the same rendering engine as Apple’s Safari browser, so it is no surprise that most web sites—including this one—seem to work just fine. In fact, I’ve already added Chrome to my list of supported browsers (although there are sure to be minor incompatibilities; let me know if you find any).

The beta that Google released today is available only for Microsoft Windows operating systems, however Google promises Mac and Linux versions (though they provided no schedule for their release). If you are a Windows user and are dissatisfied with your browser universe, Chrome might be worth a look. All-in-all, the technological ‘under the hood’ innovations we see here are likely a harbinger of things to come in the web browser universe—and it never hurts to have some competing open source products, since Chrome, WebKit, and Firefox can all ‘steal’ from one another and move the entire Internet forward (except for the poor souls still using Internet Explorer).