Tim Bajarin at pcmag.com just wrote an excellent article on the OS wars entitled "The New OS Wars: Winners and Losers". It's an excellent read and highly suggested.
To break it down simply, Bajarin writes that while the previous OS war was over the desktop and servers, and the current war is over the mobile phone, the next war will be for the touch-based driven devices that will be even more directly incorporated into our lives (for example, a home with an integrated computer that runs your A/C, keeps your iPod updated, and starts your car when you walk out the door).
If you look at the current crop of operating systems out there, some clearly are going to struggle. Your typical $50 mobile phone is a great example. The interface is simplistic and doesn't adapt well to the touch screen. Google and Apple however seem to be going in the right directly. Their interfaces want you to much, resize, scroll, and otherwise play around to get what you want.
So, what about Microsoft?
As noted by Bajarin, Microsoft's first problem is that they don't have an OS. They have a fleet of them.
Need an OS for your desktop? Try Windows 7.
Need an OS for your phone? Try Windows Mobile.
Need an OS for your gaming device? Try. Well, whatever it is really running the Xbox. (Disclaimer: I'm watching a streaming movie from Netflix on my Xbox 360 as I type this.)
Apple is an example of a company that has taken a relatively simple OS and used it as the basis of its success. It took the OS running the iPod, extended it to the iPhone, and then to the iPad. And if you move from one device to the other the feel and functionality stays the same. Not only that, but the applications stay the same. That's power.
Google is going down the same road.
So how hard will Apple and Google have to struggle when the next evolution in interfaces and integrated computing comes along? Not nearly as much as Microsoft will.
Microsoft, take note: The clock is ticking.
This story, "Google and Apple are Smart, Microsoft is Dumb" was originally published by Network World.