Microsoft's 2009 Included Windows 7, Bing, Azure and Windows Mobile

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Microsoft's 2009 Included Windows 7, Bing, Azure and Windows Mobile

by Nicholas Kolakowski

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Microsofts 2009 began with the company prepping for some of the biggest gambles in its history, including the general release of Windows 7, the operating system meant to replace Vista, which never shook its reputation as a buggy memory hog.

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Green is the new black: in addition to major updates such as Vista Service Pack 2 and Windows 7, Microsoft launched smaller programs designed to take advantage of industry trends such as environmentalism, notably with the Environmental Sustainability Dashboard for Microsoft Dynamics AX.

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As 2009 progressed and Microsofts revenue dipped, the company started concentrating on its new flagship releases and killing legacy programs such as Encarta and Money Plus.

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Microsoft also spent 2009 ramping up for the release of Windows Azure, its cloud-based platform (Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie is seen here announcing Azure in 2008). Azure entered Community Technology Preview, ahead of being "turned on" on Jan. 1.

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Microsoft released the Windows 7 Release Candidate on May 4. With several small tweaks over the beta version, the RC was yet another part of Microsofts strategy to solicit feedback (and fix issues) ahead of the October general release.

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One of the biggest complaints about Vista had been its lack of compatibility with many XP-based applications. To counter this, Windows 7 featured XP Mode, which created an environment in which even the most XP-centric applications could run.

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In a May talk with Stanford students, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer suggested that Vista wasnt all that Microsoft had anticipated it would be. "A product like software is only as good as the last release ... or two," he reportedly told them during his speech. "Yes, thank you. Moving right along."

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Many of Microsofts events in 2009 attempted to emphasize its "three screens and a cloud" strategy, which seeks to port Microsoft content via the cloud onto not only PCs, but also smartphones and televisions.

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Microsoft claimed in April that some 96 percent of netbooks run Windows. Netbooks, also known as mini-notebooks, were the one bright spot for a PC industry otherwise experiencing sluggish sales in 2009.

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In June, Microsoft launched Bing, its revamped search engine, in a bid to more heartily challenge Google on its own turf. Bing slowly gained market share throughout the rest of 2009, reaching nearly 10 percent of the U.S. search engine market by the end of the year.

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Microsoft continued to roll out new hardware and accessories, including mouse models with snap-in Nano transceivers and more ergonomic design.

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Other new Microsoft hardware offered functionality for the enterprise, including Web cameras.

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Microsoft released Windows Mobile 6.5 on Oct. 6. Microsoft had been steadily losing market share in mobile operating systems throughout 2009, but hoped that Mobile 6.5 would help slow that attrition. Some 13 Windows phones are expected to debut by the end of 2010.

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Microsofts efforts in the mobile space included porting its Office functionality, including Word, onto smartphones. In addition to offering mobile Office through Windows Mobile, Microsoft also partnered with Nokia to port the applications onto Symbian smartphones.

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Windows Mobile 6.5 included a mobile version of Internet Explorer. Microsoft is working to keep its Internet Explorer franchise the market-share leader in browsers, launching Internet Explorer 8 in March.

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Microsoft also launched the Zune HD, the companys touchscreen media player competitor to Apples iPod Touch (also shown here), in September. Available in 16GB and 32GB sizes, with a 3.3-inch touchscreen, the Zune HD featured Wi-Fi capability and an integrated HD radio receiver.

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Microsoft launched Windows 7 on Oct. 22 with a high-profile event in New York City, headlined by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

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Windows 7s new features include a redesigned taskbar, a more customizable Start Menu and trippy wallpapers.

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Other Windows 7 features included OpenSearch-based Federated Search, allowing users to explore local and network drives on top of intranet storage, and Libraries, which give users more granular control over how they ordered and stored information.

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