Microsoft will present a full day's insight Wednesday on its impending OS, Windows 10, due to arrive by the end of this year.
The new OS is viewed as one of the most strategic turning points in the software company's history given new corporate leadership; a disastrous attempt to meld mobile and desktop OS features in 8.0, the most-hated Windows OS to date; and the company's newest strategy to build one platform for everything Microsoft, from the desktop OS to its gaming console Xbox.
And, simultaneously, it sorely needs to shore up mobile apps and mobile development to gain any true footing in the smartphone business.
Industry watchers believe Microsoft has the bandwidth, the intellectual property and the leadership to make all that happen if it has changed its ways regarding, well, its attitude toward users, whether they're consumers or whether they're running billion-dollar enterprises.
The next version of Windows must make everyone happy: Grandmas who had just gotten used to the Start menu, gamers who feel they were baited into a tablet OS with DirectX 11.1, and working-class dads still trying to understand why some apps are missing within the hated Windows 8 metro tiles.
"A market leader creates the standards and has competitors, and customers, sitting on edge to see what they will do next," Adam Hartung, Forbes leadership columnist and author of "Create Marketplace Disruption: How to Stay Ahead of the Competition," told Tech Times. "Today people wonder if they have any need for Microsoft, and if they will have any need in the future."
Losing desktop market share clearly won't help Microsoft make any gains in the uber-competitive mobile space where Redmond is already playing serious catchup. Consumers, in general, aren't finding a need for Windows mobile devices, says Hartung. Enterprise customers are migrating to mobile solutions, but many aren't even considering a move to Microsoft's offerings.
"Today companies have Windows desktops and laptops, but their plans are all around their move to mobile -- that involves evaluating Apple and Samsung, primarily," says Hartung. "Windows isn't even part of the analysis."
The key to Microsoft's future success in the OS, desktop and mobile markets requires a huge mindset change, explains Jordan Goldmeier, CEO of data consulting agency Cambia Factor and an Excel MVP since 2013. Microsoft must do a better job of listening to partners and the Microsoft community as a whole, he says.
"Before, there were distinct subgroups of partners, tech evangelists, like me, and everyday users -- and we're now coalescing into one voice similar to the communities behind Apple and Google," Goldmeier told Tech Times. "Before now, we were all just three groups, with competing voices. In particular, 'everyday users' never felt like they had a say in product direction."
Goldmeier believes Microsoft is starting to listen and slowly moving away from its old ways of doing business, but the community still wants a "younger and more dynamic company."
Microsoft can retain desktop leadership while building mobile market share, but it has to start giving people what they want, says Goldmeier. He believes Microsoft has already taken steps away from its traditional business plan of releasing incremental product updates, which Goldmeier calls the "Textbook Model."
"Now, they're embracing a wide range of technologies, even from competitors," says Goldmeier. "A great example is the new Excel for iPad, which is awesome. Previously Microsoft didn't give much thought to providing a superior product on a competing mobile platform. But even I, as an MVP, use an iPad!"
Come Wednesday, the Microsoft community will learn if Goldmeier's insight is on target and if Microsoft has been spending more time listening to users rather than telling users what they want.