There's no doubt that the next big battle between Microsoft and Google is over the cloud. But Microsoft's biggest greatest asset, Windows, could do serious injury to the company's cloud aspirations, and leave Google a big opening.
One of the greatest benefits for cloud computing is the way in which it allows you to access files, enterprise assets, and applications no matter where you are and which device you use. Whether you use a PC, a smartphone, or a tablet, all that is within easy reach. And there's no need to sync data, because ultimately your data's home is in the cloud.
Increasingly, people will access the cloud via tablets. They're lighter and less expensive than laptops, and people are likely to carry them around not just the office, but home as well --- and like it or not, home has become the new office.
And that's where Windows will hurt Microsoft. As I've previously written, because Microsoft insists on building its tablets based on Windows, the company will struggle in the tablet market. Windows 7 is ill-suited for tablets, and even Windows 8 isn't ideal.
Windows tablets will take a back seat to the iPad and Android tablets. And because of that, Microsoft will be hurt very badly in its cloud strategy. As with Android phones, Android tablets are pre-built to tap into a wide variety of Google accounts. Sign into your tablet with a Google account, and you get access to all of your Google services.
That means that by default, millions of people will use Google cloud-based services. Because Windows tablets won't be popular, there will be far fewer people using Microsoft cloud-based services.
Because of the consumerization of IT, where consumers go, IT will follow. And that means towards Google, not Microsoft.
Microsoft would do well to use a leaner operating system for its tablets, because that way it will be more likely to gain market share. I don't expect that to happen, and ultimately Microsoft's cloud strategy will likely suffer.