Best of 2009 Software technologies: Part1

As the curtains have fallen on 2009, it is time to reminisce on the most notable software and application releases  from last year. I have been a bit biased toward Google in these series of articles but lets face it, none of the big (or smaller players) comes close to Google's ability to innovate.

Google has been a relative newcomer into the high-tech internet sector. As a result, the company has a huge advantage. While the Microsofts and the Yahoos have to factor in the overhead of redesign, re-factoring and  rewriting of their products, Google can start off with a clean slate on many of their offerings. It has the advantage of learning from the mistakes made by its competitors and avoid them. It could look at existing products like email and voicemail. that were made decades ago and give them a new context, a context more in line with today's needs and not from the perspective of what we have been used to.

Among the others who have mad my list are some well-known players, and some new ones.
Let us now dig deep and analyse the software releases last year that could indeed change the way we live our life.

Windows 7

Amid high expectations, and under relentless public scrutiny after a debacle called Windows Vista, the Seattle based evil empire released   Windows 7 in October. It finally lived up to its claims, satisfying many of the toughest critics when it came to performance, speed and robustness

Many agree that this is the best quality OS ever to come out of Microsoft. Earlier this year, I attended a presentation of a Microsoft salesman on Windows 7. 'We took a step back from Vista and removed many features that impeded the system', he said, without offering details.

"In one client site we were able to bring back many old computers that the client had shelved." He added. "These were computers that were unable to run Vista. Most of my applications seem to run faster on Windows 7. The screensavers and icons are also impressive in this release.Windows 7

There were rumors in many sites claiming that the Windows 7  upgrade would be available for $45. These were exactly what they were- mere rumors. The upgrade sells around $100. New installation packages go for $145.

However, Windows 7 offers a stable system for all the heavy duty applications I have used. It has a few great features for convenience, which include a snazzy task bar, the ability to arrange windows side by side, a search feature to search the local machine for files( a la Google desktop) and some movie making tools. It also comes with the Windows media center installed.  If you have have used this application, it is amongst other things,  a poor man's Tivo.

There is no doubt that Microsoft has established some credibility with this version of windows even among its harshest critics.

There have been a few important distros in the Linux world in 2009. Below we review the big three.

Ubuntu Karmic Koala

The most popular Linux distro released a new version, possibly a little too soon. Many of the software applications for Linux were not able to keep up with this delivery. Karmic offers better performance,  a better UI, faster startup time and in my experience, better playback of audio and video streamed over the net. Ubuntu includes sub-flavors, Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Mythbuntu.   Ubuntu also has a server version for hosting documents, media files or for running a web server like apache. Many netbooks come pre-installed with Ubuntu

Fedora Unite
 Fedora is another popular linux distro sponsored by Redhat. Unlike  Ubuntu, Fedora takes a one-size-fits-all philosophy and comes in only one flavor with a standard set of features.  

Fedora 12 has a very impressive UI and its performance in terms of start-up time and response are very impressive.

Open Suse 11.2
This distro, sponsored by Novell is another big player in the Linux community. It incorporates other open standards like CIM (the Common Information Model), and YaST (a standard, open source configuration and management suite for Linux). 

The new release has a beautiful UI and incorporates a large array of great applications.

Google Chrome OS

When Google released the Chrome browser, few would have guessed that this was a precursor to an operating system that Google will release soon. The company gave previews of this operating system, named the Chrome OS. We have had browsers within desktops and have accessed desktops using browsers. On this operating system, the desktop IS the browser. This is a minimal operating system where most applications will be online or 'in the cloud'.While Google has only provided a preliminary demo release of Chrome OS, it will provide more stable versions soon. Google is planning to target the netbook market and then find a path into our desktops for this system. One brave announcement made by Google is that this OS will not support hard drives and will only run on flash memory.
2010 will be the year to watch Chrome OS and its permeation in the Netbook and laptop markets.

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