10 Best Things Microsoft Did in 2010

It’s been a successful year for Microsoft.

The company took a lot of heat, but overall accomplished quite a bit – especially for its enterprise customers. Here’s our top tips for what Redmond got right in the past year.

We focused on Microsoft’s enterprise offerings, and left off those from its entertainment/gaming division (Go Kinect!), with allowances for Windows Phone 7 because of its enterprise applications. Be sure to post your favorite 2010 Microsoft product — both for IT and consumer — in my comments section!

10. Office for Mac 2011

Oft-neglected Mac users finally have an improved version of Office. Most notable is the inclusion of an Outlook client for the Mac.

9. Bing

Microsoft completed its integration with Yahoo! (replacing the Yahoo! search engine with Bing) in the United States and Canada in August. It also integrated the ad platform so advertisers have one platform to work with. Bing continues to gain share, but it’s still overshadowed by Google.

8. Windows Intune

Microsoft released two beta versions of this cloud-based systems-management tool. When it becomes available next year, Windows Intune will allow midsize IT departments to manage updates, centralize malware protection, perform proactive monitoring and track inventory, among other things. Perhaps best of all, the $11 per PC per month subscription includes Windows 7 Enterprise upgrade rights and the option to purchase the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for an additional $1 per PC per month. As an added bonus, Microsoft released a free version of Microsoft Security Essentials for small businesses.

7. Visual Studio 2010

Launched in April, Microsoft’s popular IDE got a major facelift with substantial visual editing improvements, a new code editor, extended language support and parallel programming capabilities. It’s also optimized for SharePoint and cloud development.

6. Lync Server 2010

Microsoft released its successor to Office Communications Server 2007, Lync Server 2010, providing what it promises is the first viable alternative to PBXes. Microsoft intends to be a major player in the office telecom market.

5. SQL Server 2008 R2

Not only did Microsoft ship SQL Server 2008 R2 this year, but it has started shipping SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse Edition (code-named “Madison”) based on the massive parallel processing product that Microsoft acquired nearly two years ago from DATAllegro Inc. The solution appears on hardware in mid-December as part of the new HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance. Microsoft last month released the community technology preview (CTP) of the next version of SQL Server, code-named “Denali,” which it says will up the bar on scalability and availability.

4. SharePoint 2010

In May, Microsoft launched SharePoint 2010 with some key new features:
support for enterprise search, centralized administration, digital asset management and business connectivity services.

3. IE 9

Microsoft showed it’s not going to go back to its days of complacency in the browser market with the recent release of the Internet Explorer 9 beta. Among other things, Internet Explorer 9 emphasizes HTML5 support.

2. Windows Phone 7

In 2010 Microsoft announced, lined up partners for and delivered its successor to Windows Mobile with a brand-new and unique UI. Whether it’s able to put a dent into the momentum of Droids and iPhones remains to be seen, but Microsoft appears to be back in the game.

1. Cloud

Microsoft went “all-in” in the cloud this year. The company released its Windows Azure and SQL Azure cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) in February and in October announced a roadmap that promises to flesh out the offering in the coming year in support of hybrid cloud services. Microsoft also announced numerous big wins for its Business Productivity Online Suite, which the company is re-branding as Office 365. Moreover, Microsoft announced the Windows Azure Platform Appliance, which will let large enterprises and partners run Windows Azure on-premises.