Internet search company Yandex has managed to fence off Google in most, if not all, Russian-speaking countries when it comes to searching the Web.

Today, the company has announced the launch of an Internet browser that ‘leverages its cloud expertise’, heating up the rivalry some more.

The move was reported by Reuters and others a few weeks ago, but Yandex had declined to confirm that it was working on its own browser up until today.

It comes a few months after we reported that Yandex had been ousted from the default search option spot in the latest version of Mozilla’s Firefox browser, in favor of Google. Obviously, Google Chrome also searches Google by default.

Yandex also offers a customized Firefox browser to its users, a product it recently said it would keep offering. That remains to be seen, now that the company has decided to debut its own, branded Internet browser.

Download Yandex.Browser 100007 Russias Yandex does the inevitable, launches WebKit powered Internet browser to stave off Google

Coincidentally, Mail.ru (that other Russian Internet giant) just did exactly the same thing, launching the ‘social’ Amigo browser last week.

Yandex’s browser, which is simply dubbed Yandex Browser, uses the WebKit engine, which of course also powers the Apple Safari and Google Chrome browsers. Furthermore, Yandex says its new browser is based on the open-source Chromium code. And it doesn’t end there:

The Yandex browser platform has through a technological partnership with a key long term partner been expanded to incorporate Opera Software’s Turbo technology, which allows to boost the browser’s page loading capacity even with a slow connection. The Turbo mode will be included in the next browser release.

The browser supports Windows and Mac OS, and it’s safe to assume it will soon be extended to mobile platforms as well.

The company says its cloud-based “safe browsing technology”, together with Kaspersky Lab’s security solution, will safeguard users by warning them about potentially malicious websites.

Strangely, the Yandex browser isn’t available for download just yet, despite the announcement. It will be available in about 5 hours from now at the time of publication (at 17:00 Moscow time to be more precise).

A browser and a search engine are not the only weapons Yandex employs in the battle against Google and others, we should note.

The company also offers a free cloud storage service, a mobile taxi booking app, a music subscription service and a ‘Yandex.Money’ debit card, among others.

Also read:

Russian search giant Yandex’s Q2: revenue up 50% to $207.2m, net income grows to $60.4m

Yandex expands global search index from 4 billion to ‘tens of billions’ of pages

Already Europe’s largest Internet market and still growing astoundingly fast: Russia by the numbers

Update: The Yandex browser is now available to download. Below are some screenshots of it in action.

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Yandex will import all of your settings from Google Chrome, including bookmarks, when you first launch the browser.

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The grey colour scheme and unified search/address bar has been retained from Chrome at the top of the page, albeit with a few subtle aesthetic tweaks.

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Clicking inside the address bar will bring up a panel of six windows, displaying frequently used or preset websites.