The Windows 7 operating system was actually introduced in late 2009, but as 2010 began it was still the new kid on the block and many were still waiting for the dust to settle on the initial launch to figure out whether Windows 7 was worth upgrading to, or if it was a debacle like its predecessor, Windows Vista.
At an IDC Conference in Brazil last April, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer weighed in with the following wisdom. “The most important product our company has launched in the last year, no doubt, was Windows 7. Windows is a very important piece of infrastructure on literally over 1 billion PCs around the planet, and then the server version of Windows is also very important, running on over 7 million servers around the world.”
Windows 7 quickly overcame the specter of Windows Vista, gaining media and analyst acclaim, consumer acceptance, and — perhaps most critical to its long-term success — the blessing of IT admins around the globe.
A recent article in Redmond Channel Partner magazine said, “In an interview, IDC analyst Al Gillen says many enterprises have already begun Windows 7 migrations–and those that haven’t, will. ‘Ninety percent of customers have plans in some way, shape or form to be moving toward Windows 7,’ Gillen says.”
Internet Explorer 9
On the Web browser front, Internet Explorer 8 has been doing quite well, and continues to lead all Web browsers and drive Internet Explorer 6 to a long-overdue extinction. But, Microsoft is also hard at work on the next generation Web browser, and Internet Explorer 9 seems to be more than a simple cosmetic or incremental update to its predecessor.
Consumerization of IT
One of the trends that has defined technology for the past couple years is the consumerization of IT. Gadgets like iPhones and iPads are driving users to demand integration from IT admins, and blurring the line between what is a consumer gadget and what is a business computing tool.
In a keynote at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in July, Brad Brooks, corporate vice president of Windows consumer marketing and product management, said, “The things we use at home are the things we’re being asked for at work. It’s about how things fit with both my home life and my work life that defines a great product and product experiences. Some say a PC is not the future, that it’s reached the limit. I think those people need to have their headbone checked out. We are just seeing an amazing breadth of innovation and form factors from our manufacturing partners. Windows 7 takes PC to a whole new level: the cloud: the personal cloud.”
Windows Live Hotmail
Microsoft also made some updates and changes to its Windows Live suite of tools in 2010–including the Hotmail Web-based e-mail service. Microsoft has been making a stronger push to embrace the cloud–both for consumers and business customers, and the changes for Hotmail add features for working with social networking updates, photos, and video content, among other things.
A Bloomberg.com news story contains this analyst commentary on the changes to Hotmail. “They’re taking it more seriously and really trying to make it competitive,” said Matt Rosoff, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Wash.
There are many other Microsoft milestones for 2010. Microsoft set a variety of high water marks when it comes to its monthly Patch Tuesday security bulletin releases, and it also got back into the smartphone business with the launch of Windows Phone 7 this Fall. It will be interesting to see, as we enter 2011, how–or if–Microsoft can adapt and compete in the mobile market with rival smartphones and tablets.