Nowhere is that more evident than in Windows 7's XP virtualization mode. Rather than worrying about compatibility problems, Windows 7 users will have the ability to use virtually all their software and peripherals. Practically anything that worked with Windows XP will work with Windows 7 through that virtualization platform. With a few clicks, users will have access to a Windows XP installation. It could transform the experience of using Windows 7.
Another important addition is the operating system's taskbar. It might seem like a small change, but it drastically improves navigation in the Windows 7 ecosystem. Being able to quickly sift through Windows to find what you need is a feature that was desperately needed in Windows. Plus, it's arguably better than any multitasking feature built into Mac OS X.
Microsoft's Bing search engine has totally transformed the online search market. For too long, Google was dominating without any real competitor to worry about. Now that Bing has been released with several great features, it's possible that Google might need to take some creative action to limit the amount of search share Microsoft acquires.
Although it's important to note that the chances of Bing beating Google are slim, it's also important to note that through the help of several innovative features, Bing has been able to capture some market share away from the search giant. In fact, it now has about 10 percent market share. A few years ago, the thought of Microsoft achieving that kind of success online was unheard of.
Much of that success is due to Microsoft's willingness to innovate search beyond simple results. The company's Bing and Ping feature is a great way to share search results. Just last week the company announced that it would be offering visual search to make it easier for users to find products they want. Even the dynamic image behind Bing's homepage has proven successful for the company. And that all comes before a discussion on the relevance of its results, which in my experience, has been quite high.
Microsoft hasn't become innovative over night. The company has been coming up with ideas for quite a while. But 2009 has been a great year for Microsoft. It has shown that the software giant can do more than release software and wait for someone to buy it. Nowadays, Microsoft is actually leading the innovation curve rather than following it. And that should be commended.