google-microsoft.bmpThe Google-Microsoft showdown begins in earnest.

Google will announce today it will begin selling online office software for $50 a year, including 10 gigabytes of email storage, word processing, spreadsheets and calendar.

The move comes just as Microsoft is trying to convince businesses to upgrade to its Vista operating system, so Google’s offensive is perfect timing — and is likely to be enough to win over some small businesses.

But here’s the fine-print: Google says the services will be available “99.9” percent of the time. In other words, remember this is Web-based, and can shut down without warning. Though Google is offering round-the-clock support, it says.

See AP story here.