Signs emerge that Microsoft is increasingly worrying about competition from Google. Are they right to be worried?

Windows 8 ‘Release Preview’ in June

Microsoft plans to kick out a public Windows 8 ‘Release Preview’ in early June, the last of the public downloads before the ‘reimagined’ Windows ends up on the shelves.

Revealing the plans at a Windows developer event in Tokyo, Microsoft Windows division boss Steven Sinofsky said that a ‘nearly finished version of Windows 8 would be available for public download in the first week of June.

The company has yet to release further details on pricing or upgrade promotions, having promised the particulars "in the coming" months.

What Microsoft did announce is that the firm’s cloud storage service SkyDrive would be made accessible through mobile apps and integrate with Microsoft Office and third party applications. The announcement came just a day before Google officially launched Google Drive.

Microsoft has plans to bring SkyDrive to iOS and, obviously, Windows Phone but said nothing about Android. Perhaps unsurprisingly the Google Drive announcement also didn’t make mention of an app for Windows Phone.

It seems you’re either in the Microsoft camp or the Google camp, but both seem to realise Apple is too big to avoid. We might have made the same argument about Android too but then Microsoft’s ways are mysterious and not for mere mortals like us to understand.

Also somewhat suspiciously, SkyDrive launched with 7GB of free storage, compared with Google’s 5GB. Perhaps 6GB would have been a bit too blatant? Paid storage plans look pretty decent too, with 20GB, 50GB and 100GB priced at US$10, $25 and $50 a year. That’s not bad at all for cloud storage.

If you don’t want to use it with an Android device anyway.

As for Windows 8, Microsoft isn’t saying any more right now. We also rather hope that some of the technical press will get to have a look at the ARM-based Windows RT. Given this is a pre-install only solution, it’s not something the public can test for themselves.

Whether Windows RT (and the bundled Office apps) is highly relevant for anyone thinking about picking up a new Ivy Bridge ultrabook or waiting to just how ridiculously thin and light Windows RT devices end up being.

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