It is perhaps the mother of all battles. The two gladiators have been moving in circles waiting for the other to make a move. And now that the move is made, we will see a no holds bar fight to finish.
That the two giants, Microsoft and Google, will collide was in a way inevitable. If it were not Google it would have been some other player. At the root of this competition is different view points of how people of this world need to communicate.
As Philip Kotler and John Caslione puts it very aptly in their book Chaotics, "information is communication and communication is information."
Will desktops - the domain of microsoft - remain the nodal point for communication or will the internet cloud - no one really dominates this space yet, Google is trying and so are companies like Yahoo (no, please don't write it off yet) and Amazon (Amazon?) - take over? That's the question.
Google's announcement of its free Chrome Operating System that will piggy back on Linux has clearly rattled Microsoft. Otherwise why else will it make foolish announcement that it is going to launch an online version of its Office Suite next year. Next year??? Clearly Microsoft has nothing up its sleeves right now. Who waits for one year today?
Will Google win or will Microsoft?
Here's a little bit of clairvoyance: Google is opening up doors in the Internet space, but rarely does the me-first company win in this domain (Google itself came in late). I predict that a third company that has a better understanding of how Internet works will take over. At present the only company who has really understood how Internet works is - no not Google, not Amazon, not Yahoo. Yes Apple Inc. Apple understands the Internet better than any of these players. Witness the business model of iPod and iPhone. And once Google makes desktop a non-entity, Apple that has played second fiddle with its brilliant operating system will come on its own and steal the show.