4 hot Microsoft technologies coming in 2012

After a fairly quiet 2011, Microsoft has compelling tools and updates on the horizon in the new year

The year 2012 brings with it prophecies (of doom, unfortunately -- thanks, Mayans), predictions, and promises in every industry. While I'm no seer of the future, there are four tools and toys I'm particularly anticipating from Microsoft this new year, after 2011's relative dearth of tools and toys from the company.

Microsoft technology No. 1: PST Capture tool
With a big push to get the PST Exchange mailbox archives off the desktop, Microsoft has added archiving to Exchange 2010. The reasons for getting rid of PSTs relate to legal compliance and discovery, which is much more complex -- if not downright impossible -- with PSTs out in the wild. The new archive feature in Exchange, although very much appreciated, still doesn't help us easily get the PST captured and imported into the Exchange Store.

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Since July 2011, we have been waiting for Microsoft to release its PST Capture; it was supposed to have shipped by now, but it looks as if it will ship by April. It's true that third-party tools already offer similar archiving capabilities, but I prefer to get such tools for free from the Microsoft Exchange team, especially when budgets are tight.

Microsoft technology No. 2: Windows 8 tablets
After recently buying my wife an iPad 2 (and secretly admiring it), I keep saying, "Well, sure this is nice, but wait until Windows 8." The response I keep getting, even from some big names in IT: "Pete, it's over. Microsoft lost this one." I refuse to accept that.

Apple has to worry about both the tablet and the OS. Microsoft only has to worry about the OS. The viability of that approach is already proven in the Android market, where tablets enhanced by Samsung and others are challenging the iPad phenomenom. Microsoft has already done most of the work in Windows 8, and its success or failure will come down to three issues:

  • It must appeal to the masses, which means it has to be sleek and iCandy-oriented like the iPad
  • The marketing campaign has to be compelling (in other words, no Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates); Microsoft might want to see if Justin Long's contract has run out over at Apple
  • Developers will need to embrace it and create apps for it in much the same way the iPad and Android tablets gained thousands of apps
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