Baidu has offered up a beta version of its first-ever browser, and at first glance, it looks quite similar to Google's Chrome.
The browser, which was made available for download earlier this week on Baidu's site, includes a single bar at the top, allowing users to either input addresses or search the Web. In addition, the browser's home page offers access to an application marketplace, similar to the Chrome Web Store, featuring thousands of programs users can access. When users choose an application, including the Youku video service or Sina's Weibo microblog offering, it's added to the home page.
According to The Wall Street Journal, opened applications appear in a new tab, and many of them are hosted by Baidu.
With the launch of a browser, Baidu now puts itself squarely in competition with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, the most-used browser in China. According to data from China-based researcher CNZZ, Microsoft's market share in June stood at nearly 63 percent, easily overshadowing Chrome's 2.52 percent share and Firefox's 2.06 percent slice of the market.
Although it might have a long way to go to catch Microsoft, Baidu is an online force in China. The company owns nearly 76 percent of the Chinese search market, according to China's Analysys research firm. That alone could help the search giant push its browser to more users and become a major player in that market.
Although Baidu has its sights set on Internet Explorer, the company has actually. Earlier this month, the companies announced that Microsoft would supply results to all English-language search queries through Baidu.
Baidu's new browser is available now as a free download to XP, Vista, and Windows 7 users only. The company has yet to reveal whether it will launch Mac or Linux versions in the future.