After three decades of bowing to Microsoft and its Windows juggernaut, PC and computing gadget makers are preparing for a new era that could offer the first real choice for the software that make their products tick. The arrival of competition in the form of new operating systems from Google is set to benefit both gadget makers and consumers, reducing prices and giving users more choice. Personal computer and smartphone firms showed off a range of smartphones running on Google's Android operating system, and detailed plans for PCs with Google's Chrome system at Computex, Asia's largest computing trade show, in Taipei last week. They hope their product development dollars will be well spent on Google's largely untested systems.

“I see it as a battle, not a war,” said Tudor Brown, president of British cellphone chipmaker ARM. “The battle is for gaining share of people's imagination. It's driving innovation, which is very exciting.” Both Google and Microsoft were running full court PR blitzes at Computex, a show dominated by Taiwanese PC firms whose devices usually come pre-installed with operating systems. The newer smartphone and tablet PC spaces could be the first to see true competition, as Google and Microsoft compete with rival products from Apple, Nokia and others. Competition in the PC space could take longer, as Google seeks to break a stranglehold long held by Windows.

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