By this time tomorrow, January 21, Microsoft will have revealed its battle plan for the future of Windows. Meanwhile, rivals Apple and Google have been updating and refining their operating systems with clear strategies in mind - long before Redmond's latest was even announced.
Sure, the marching orders regarding Windows 10 were issued a long time ago. Regardless there are three clear fronts on which Microsoft should be fighting this battle, given its position and resources: productivity in the browser, continuity across platforms and home entertainment.
If there's even the tiniest chance that Microsoft isn't already prepared to exchange blows on these three fronts, then I'm terribly underpaid. Here are the three key ways in which Microsoft is finally prepared to face off with Apple and Google in the OS wars.
Office 365 vs Drive vs iWork – ready … fight!
Microsoft has been plugging away on Office 365, the web-based version of its productivity suite, for years now publicly. Yet still, amid increases to storage and new or improved features like document co-authoring, the service doesn't quite stack up to Google Drive.
You could argue that Office 365 was Microsoft's retort to Google's collection of browser-powered productivity apps, but it's still lacking something. That thing is integration. What makes Google Drive so simple to use is its deep integration with Chrome, Google's Internet Explorer competitor.
It's high time that Microsoft leverages its users' accounts at the app level - beyond a customized MSN homepage upon login. Like Chrome, the new IE (known currently as "Spartan") should prominently feature Office 365 apps and integrate them across the ecosystem.
Since Windows already supports Microsoft accounts for login, there should be no need for the same login when opening IE and Office 365. Plus, the Office apps should have their place either on the menu bar or a default homepage.
Frankly, there isn't much to be done for Microsoft to bring Office 365 and Internet Explorer to 100% parity with Google Drive and Chrome. Meanwhile, Redmond is already way ahead of Apple's iWork for iCloud in this regard. The Cupertino firm seems to see web-based document creation and editing as an extension of its core apps, not the end game like Google already has and Microsoft should.
Continuity? Why not just one OS?
Apple made waves during its Mac OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 announcements last year over an initiative it's simply calling "Continuity". The idea is for MacBooks and iMacs to work more seamlessly with iOS devices.
So far, this is has boiled down to picking up where you've left off in an email or Safari webpage on your iPhone from your MacBook when they're nearby, or answering phone calls to your iPhone from your MacBook.
Meanwhile, Google is working on allowing Android phones to unlock Chromebooks simply through proximity, bringing Android apps to Chrome OS and pushing Android notification to the Chrome OS desktop, among other projects. It's safe to say that Apple and Google have similar ideas for how mobile devices and laptops or desktops should work together.