The New York Times provides a backgrounder to their rivalry which is shaping up to be an epic:
Business historians and management experts say the experience in two of the defining industries of the 20th century, mass-market retailing and automobiles, may well be instructive. The winners certainly scored higher in the generic virtues of business management: innovation, execution and leadership.
But perhaps even more significant, those who came out on top, judging from history, had two more specific attributes. They were the companies, according to business historians, that proved able to adapt to change instead of being prisoners of past success. And in their glory days, these corporate champions were magnets for the best and brightest people.
“One area where Microsoft and Google are really competing head-to-head now is in the war for talent,” said Richard S. Tedlow, a historian and professor at the Harvard Business School. “Historically, the company that won the war for talent, won the war.”