Technology product innovation has taken its share of shots to the body in recent years, and Ive been known to land a few blows myself. Part of the problem is the misuse of the term itself: When everything is an innovation(!), then nothing is. eWEEK Editorial Director Eric Lundquist recently dubbed this the era of "incremental managers," who measure their companies and products by half-points of market share rather than in the scope of their vision and the leaps in productivity gained by users. Its a good theory when you measure it against high-profile products such as Microsofts Windows Vista, which, for all its new features, will not fundamentally change the way users have interacted with their PCs over the past 20 years.
However, this theory does not explain what eWEEK Labs analysts find every year when they select the winners of the eWEEK Excellence Awards, which are highlighted in our special report here. The judges-eWEEK Labs analysts and our Corporate Partner Advisory Board-find that innovation does not necessarily breed the fastest product or the cheapest or the most expensive one. Innovative products solve problems-usually the most pressing ones facing IT managers at any given moment. A key issue this year was compliance-how to measure it, track it, store it and secure it-with solutions coming from vendors large (Microsoft) and small (Antepo). All winners not only demonstrated innovation, they redefined it.
Microsoft may get criticized for abusing innovation, but it did win for its Visual Studio Team System in the application development category. However, the company also gets kudos for some out-of-the-box thinking-or at least bravery-for submitting itself and Vista for scrutiny at the Black Hat security summit in August. eWEEK Senior Writer Ryan Naraines coverage details how the company will lay bare its security practices and technology in five sessions at the Las Vegas conference. Whatever the company loses in style points it will make up in sound advice from the security elite.
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