Top 10 Microsoft Product releases of 2010

Microsoft released some amazing products this year worldwide, from software to hardware, gaming consoles to Business productivity suites, emailing to cloud apps and from computers to mobiles – Microsoft continues its innovation to push the human race forward. These are the top 10 contributions  by Microsoft, according to me, in the year 2010.

1) Kinect for Xbox 360: The true innovation in the field of technology after so many years, Kinect is a revolutionary product which have started the era of NUI i.e. Natural User Interface. Kinect (originally known by the code name Project Natal), is a “controller-free gaming and entertainment experience” by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game platform. Microsoft sold 2.5 million units of Kinect within a month of its launch. Kinect device is easily useable with old Xbox 360 consoles also.

2) Microsoft Office 2010 suite: Microsoft released the latest version of its most popular Office application suite i.e. Office 2010 on April 15th, 2010. The suite became available for retail and online purchase on June 15, 2010. Office 2010 is the first version to require product activation for volume license editions. Release of Office 2010 brings the free online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, the service popularly known as Office Live, which works in the web browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari, but not Opera). Office Starter 2010, a new edition of Office, replaced the low-end home productivity software, Microsoft Works. Microsoft released three different SKUs of Office 2010 according to the user requirements.

3) Windows Live Essentials 2011 (Wave 4): Microsoft released a public beta for Windows Live Essentials “Wave 4” on June 24, 2010. The updated applications include Windows Live Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Writer, Family Safety, Mesh, and Messenger Companion. For Windows Live Mesh, the application has been rewritten to be based on the previous Live Mesh, and will allow PC and Mac users to keep their documents, pictures and music in sync across multiple computers. Windows Live Toolbar was discontinued and replaced by the Bing Bar. In addition, the Ribbon user interface was introduced in Windows Live Photo Gallery, Mail, and Writer in this release. The Wave 4 beta has dropped support for Windows XP, and Windows Vista or Windows 7 is required for its use. The beta refresh of Windows Live Essentials 2011 was released on August 18, 2010. Microsoft released the final version of Windows Live Essentials 2011 on September 30, 2010. The applications were updated with a QFE (except for Mesh and Family Safety) on December 1, 2010.

4) Windows Phone 7: Windows Phone 7 is an operating system developed by Microsoft for Smartphones and the latest addition in Windows mobile family. It is aimed at the consumer market instead of the enterprise market like older versions. It was launched in Europe, Singapore and Australia on October 21, 2010, and in the US & Canada on November 8, 2010, Mexico on November 24, 2010, with Asia to follow in 2011. Windows Phone 7 offered a new Zune based user interface with design language named Metro and integrates the operating system with 3rd party and other Microsoft services. Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7 on February 15, 2010, at Mobile World Congress 2010 in Barcelona and revealed additional details at MIX 2010 on March 15, 2010. The final SDK was made available on September 16, 2010. Many major mobile manufacturing companies like HTC, Samsung, LG and Dell launched their range of Windows Phone 7 cellphones.

5) Internet Explorer 9: Windows Internet Explorer 9 is the upcoming version of the Internet Explorer web browser from Microsoft. It is currently available as a public beta version to download and use, released on September 15, 2010. IE9 supports all CSS 3 selectors, improved JavaScript performance, and embedded ICC v2 or v4 color profiles support via Windows Color System. It also features hardware-accelerated graphics rendering using Direct2D, hardware accelerated text rendering using DirectWrite, hardware accelerated video rendering using Media Foundation, imaging support provided by Windows Imaging Component, and high fidelity printing powered by the XPS print pipeline. It also supports the HTML5 video and audio tags and the Web Open Font Format. The system requirements for IE9 are Windows 7 or Windows Vista SP2 (with Platform Update and IE8); Windows XP is not supported. Both 32-bit and 64-bit build versions are available to download.

6) Office 365: Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products with the latest version of our desktop suite for businesses of all sizes. Microsoft announced on 19 October 2010 that the product will be available for purchase in early 2011. Office 365 combines the popular Office desktop suite with cloud-based versions of Microsoft’s Office, Outlook, Sharepoint, and Lync applications. With Office 365 your people can more securely reach the information they need – including email, documents, contacts, and calendars – in the office or on the go. That means having a virtual office, virtually anywhere.

7) Halo Reach: It is a first-person shooter video game, developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox 360 console. It was released in North America, Australia, and Europe on September 14, 2010. The game takes place in the year 2552, where humanity is locked in a war with the alien Covenant. Halo Reach was originally announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009 in Los Angeles, California, with the first in-engine trailer shown at the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards. The developers focused on creating a compelling world, more difficult enemies, and updated graphics and audio. Halo: Reach grossed US$200 million on its launch day, setting a new record for the franchise.

8 ) Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse: Arc Touch Mouse, the first mouse designed to flatten for portability and pop up for comfort. The new mouse features Microsoft’s first touch scroll strip for easy navigation,  just move a finger slowly for controlled scrolling or flick for hyperfast scrolling. Arc Touch Mouse will be available for the estimated retail price of $69.95 (U.S.). It is available now for presale on Amazon.com, BestBuy.com and Buy.com. It will be broadly available online and in stores in January 2011.

9) Office for Mac 2011: Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 is the most recent version of the Microsoft Office productivity suite for Mac OS X. It is the successor to Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac and is comparable to Microsoft Office 2010 for Windows. The final version was released to manufacturing on September 10, 2010 and it was available to volume license customers a day later, and made available to the general public on October 26, 2010 and features a Mac version of Outlook to replace the Entourage email client. This Mac version of Outlook is intended to make the Mac version of Office work better with Microsoft’s Exchange server and with those using Office for Windows. Office 2011 includes a Mac-based Ribbon similar to Office for Windows. Office 2011 supports online collaboration tools such as Windows Live SkyDrive and Office Web Apps, allowing Mac and Windows users to simultaneously edit documents over the web.

10) Visual Studio 2010: On April 12, 2010, Microsoft released Visual Studio 2010, codenamed Dev10, and .NET Framework 4. Visual Studio 2010 features a new UI developed using WPF. Visual Studio 2010 IDE has been redesigned which, according to Microsoft, clears the UI organization and “reduces clutter and complexity. ” The new IDE better supports multiple document windows and floating tool windows, while offering better multi-monitor support. The IDE shell has been rewritten using the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), whereas the internals have been redesigned using Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) that offers more extensibility points than previous versions of the IDE that enabled add-ins to modify the behavior of the IDE. Visual Studio 2010 comes with .NET Framework 4 and supports developing applications targeting Windows 7. It supports IBM DB2 and Oracle databases, in addition to Microsoft SQL Server. It has integrated support for developing Microsoft Silverlight applications, including an interactive designer.

So, these are the top ten products released by Microsoft in the year 2010 according to me, there is lot more coming from Microsoft next year.

What do you think of this list?

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Nitin Agarwal is an MVP alumni and a Pro Blogger. He was awarded as Most Valuable Professional for 3 times by Microsoft in Windows Expert - Consumer category. He is immensely inspired by Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and APJ Abdul Kalam.