Online search and advertising giant is prepping its entry into the online storage market, a move that would see the company competing with Microsoft's Windows Live SkyDrive offering. The upcoming service, alternatively codenamed "Platypus" and "My Stuff," and sometimes referred to as GDrive or Google Drive, could become available within a few months, according to various reports online.

While pricing for the service isn't known, Google will most likely offer a basic amount of storage for free, as it does now for users of its Gmail email service and PicasaWeb photo storage service. Indeed, the pricing of online storage at Google is already available online: The company currently charges yearly fees of $20 for 10 GB of storage, which can aggregate across all of its storage-oriented services. Other plans, with up to 400 GB of storage, are available as well.

Microsoft already offers a public beta version of its own online storage service, Windows Live SkyDrive, though that service is currently limited to 1 GB of storage, which is free. Microsoft is also preparing a beta version of its Office Live Workspace service, which combine online storage with document management capabilities and integration with Microsoft Office. These services represent some of the few recent instances in which Microsoft was able to bring Web-based product offerings to market before Google, its chief online rival.

What differentiates Google's upcoming service is that it will integrate with Windows desktops, using standard file system icons so that users can simply drag and drop between local and online storage. That familiar interface could speed adoption of the service, as potential users are already used to drag and dropping files on the desktop. It's unclear whether Google intends to offer offline access to files stored online, via a synchronization mechanism.