Microsoft has been a major contender in the tech industry for as long as many of us can remember. It has managed to occupy the majority of the personal computing market, and much of the business market as well. It’s seen its downfalls though, too.
There have been many products that it has launched that have only left me disappointed and frustrated. However, in the recent years, it seems Microsoft has gotten their act together with many of their products.
Now, I realize that nothing is “perfect” and improvements will always be needed and made; however compared to what these past products were, they’ve improved tremendously.
We’ve all seen our fair share of Microsoft operating systems, and there certainly have been some terrible ones that don’t need to be mentioned. But even among the better ones, Windows 7 towers over them. It has excellent features and doesn’t seem like it’s just the same (or worse) operating system repackaged in a new user interface. Windows 7 went above and beyond with it’s excellent toolbar features and advanced security settings, greatly improved over its predecessors.
There have actually been several products along with SkyDrive that Microsoft has created, such as Windows Live Mesh and Windows Live Sync. For a long time (or at least it felt like it) Windows Live Mesh and SkyDrive were two separate entities, with SkyDrive having 25GB of storage unsyncable to a computer and WLM having 5GB of storage capable of syncing any folders to the cloud. Then came Windows Live Sync, combining the two services and allowing you to sync 2GB of your 25GB of storage with your computer. This wasn’t ideal, but it was an improvement. This increased to 5GB and then shortly all the services merged into SkyDrive — finally a simple solution!
What was great was for a short time, all 25GB could be synced. Then Microsoft only allowed users who already had accounts to sync the 25GB, while all new users would get 7GB. Although this isn’t nearly as good an option, it still is better than the majority of file synchronizing services available and integrates nicely within Microsoft Office and Hotmail.
Another nice thing Microsoft has done with SkyDrive is make the icon match other Windows 7 tray icons. It would be nice if this would be across the board for all Microsoft applications.
Hotmail, too has seen its fair share of downfalls. It just wasn’t that great. I could never explain why I didn’t like it, I just didn’t. But with its changes in features and user interface, it is back to being a strong contender within webmail clients. The recent addition of Outlook.com has improved it even more and is really exciting to see just where Microsoft plans to take the services, which are becoming so tightly integrated.
Microsoft Security Essentials
Microsoft has long been attacked for its lack of decent security settings, and although I don’t completely dismiss it, I also don’t agree that it’s all on Microsoft. That said, there has never really been a solid antivirus from Microsoft. They’ve had many security and privacy tools, some of which they still have in addition to MSE, but nothing to the same caliber that could compete with other antivirus software in the market. And speaking of the market, Microsoft Security Essentials is completely free and although it may not be the best, it is one of the top contenders as an antivirus, and, in my opinion, is at the very top as a free antivirus solutions.
Internet Explorer 9
IE9 could be the best improvement of them all. It finally has caught back up with the “big boys” and now all it has to do is prove itself as a worthy browser. I do think that although it has a long way to go to gain back trust, primarily from those in the tech industry, it has made a lot of progress in living up to its new standard. For many years Microsoft didn’t focus on Internet Explorer like they should have been and got passed up by Google and Mozilla. They probably thought they were big enough to hold their own… now they’re advertising on TV. You know when a tech product has to advertise on TV that it isn’t in a good shape.
Nonetheless, though, IE9 is a fantastic browser and although I’m a Chrome user personally, I do occasionally use IE and recommend it to everyone to at least consider and try again. Now if we could just get everyone to update from IE8 or 7 or… 6.
Microsoft Office 2010
Microsoft Office has been and is the most popular office suite among personal and business use. Despite what you may think about alternatives (and they are fantastic), you can’t argue that Office has always been the most used Office suite. My only complaint is still its price, but other than that, Office is hands-down, the best office suite. Its user interface is superb, it has the best syncing capabilities with an integrated cloud service (i.e. SkyDrive) and it has a variety of programs and uses per program.
Despite its rough past, Microsoft has certainly been making a comeback and I predict that it will become an even bigger player in the different areas of security, webmail and file synchronization. It has always had a handle on being the primary office suite used worldwide, but that doesn’t mean it hass always looked the nicest. Even Office 2007 seemed like it was just kind of tossed together quickly, and frankly reminded me too much of Vista.
Are there any Microsoft products that you feel should have made this list, but didn’t? What are your experiences with these products? Good? Bad? I’m looking forward to your thoughts!