Google has reportedly started to promote some of its own products through ads in Chrome. Although they are rather unobtrusive, appearing in a yellow-tinted box at the top of the new-tab page, it has caught the attention of enough people online who are now worried Google might do this a common practice.

The current ad promotes the company's Chrome OS-powered Chromebooks, which happen to be on sale for the holidays. Some say it is Google's right to display ads because Chrome is free software, while others are already threatening to switch browsers unless there's a way to switch the ads off.

Personally, I don't really mind them as long as the ads stay in the new-tab page and don't become obtrusive – and I really don't think it'll come to that. Cnet notes that when Google launched Chrome in September 2008, it made it clear that the browser was a secondary mechanism for making money. But it wanted to this by enabling a faster and richer browsing experience, getting people to search more and use their web-based services.

Consequently, Google often uses Chrome as a vehicle to bring new Web-app features to market and promote new standards such as SPDY networking, WebM video, and WebP images. One example of this is an upcoming feature that will allow a gamepad to interact with web content on Chrome.

That update is expected to land early next year, according to Google's Paul Kinlan, and is part of an effort to bring console-like gaming to the web. Besides native gamepad support, webcams and microphones will also be made plug-and-play friendly in Chrome without having to install additional plug-ins.

Image credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET