It won't be long before Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) tighten their boxing gloves and go at one another in the ring.

This week, Google doffed its robe by announcing a Chrome-branded operating system. Chrome OS will be free, open-source, and potentially a thorn in Windows 7's side.

Skeptics will quickly point out that Google has been a non-starter outside its paid-search stronghold. All its other offerings, from Android OS smartphones to the Chrome browser, are fringe players in their fields.

I'd simply counter that while Microsoft gives Internet Explorer away, it charges a princely sum for its operating system. If Google is able to line up enough willing partners to use its OS -- something that the Linux rooters have never quite been able to do -- Microsoft could definitely be vulnerable.

Don't get too excited for now. The Chrome OS remains several months away from becoming a reality. However, you may as well begin camping out to get a good seat for the inevitable fisticuffs.

Briefly in the news
Let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week:

  • Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) keeps finding new ways to make its movie-streaming service available to more people. It struck a deal with Sony (NYSE:ELN) this week, allowing buyers of certain Web-connected BRAVIA high-def televisions to stream the thousands of movies that Netflix makes available to subscribers at no additional charge. Let me know when Netflix finds a way to stream through my toaster.
  • The tug of war for Data Domain (NASDAQ:DDUP) is over. NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP) has let go of the rope, conceding that EMC (NYSE:EMC) will acquire the data deduplication specialist. There was no point in holding on any longer -- those rope burns were starting to sting.

Until next week, I remain,
Rick Munarriz

Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Netflix is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield-wiper fluid when trying to look back. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, save for Netflix. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.