Google announced a faster browsing experience via their website – Google App Speeds Up Web Surfing. I was a little bit puzzled on why would Google do something like that while apparently it seems a solution for a non serious problem with some implications for user privacy.- An Ever Impatient Google.
If we look at it from a Microsoft – Google competitive point of view then it might reveal a little bit about Google's strategic intentions. Since the start of commercial internet, web applications regardless of the level of productivity they offer were always inferior to desktop applications due to lower response times as well as richness of UI. Microsoft as the main owner of the client side experience (browsing experience and the underlying operating systems) have always used this fact as a basic competitive edge (And maybe that is why Internet Explorer hasn't evolved so much) for deepening their foothold in every computer uses.
The gap of response time and application diversity is closing in and Google's effort to make this gap narrower or even reverse it towards their side creates a situation where users have a new alternative of Google applications vs. locally installed applications.
This makes Google, although not a "classic" operating system provider, a real alternative to local desktop computing power.
Update: Information on other posts on the subject siliconvalleywatcher.
Update: The Internet Stock Blogs discusses a counter attack from Microsoft The Browser Wars begin: Microsoft targets Google? (MSFT, GOOG) .