2009 would not be described as the year of the open wallet, but that didn't hold back the new releases, new technology developments, new controversy, and new beginnings.
Windows 7 puts the Vista debacle to rest
Starting the year off with hope that Windows 7 would be accepted (putting the nail in the Vista coffin in the process), I wrote the column "Vista trumped by its sequel, Windows 7." My take all along on Windows 7 is that it is more of an advanced service pack to Vista (much in the way SP2 for XP brought with it some great features like the Security Center) than a major OS revision.
However, when paired up with Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7 truly stands on its own two feet, with features like DirectAccess, BranchCache, and AppLocker leading the pack (check out "Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: Joined at the hip"). As for Windows Vista? It will be remembered fondly as the OS that took one for the team in terms of coming forward with a new security model -- albeit one that people described as "annoying" as they contended with many, many unnecessary User Account Control prompts.
Exchange Server brings exciting technology
One of the key focal points in 2009 in the Enterprise Windows blog was Exchange Server 2010 (read "Can you find the enhancements in Exchange 2010?"). As a member of the Microsoft Technology Adoption Program, I had the privilege of seeing the product through the build process and witnessed how diligently the product development team resolved issues that came up. All in all, I'm most excited by the new storage architecture (which I explain in "Exchange 2010: Where are my storage groups!?") and the new unified messaging improvements (which I cover in "Deploying unified messaging without going insane").
But the advances didn't stop there. Midyear, we saw the release of Exchange 2007 SP2, which included support for VSS Backup on Windows Server 2008 (something that was oddly missing prior to this service pack). It was a milestone service pack, as I explained in "What Exchange 2007 SP2 brings to the table."
Windows Server 2008 R2 proves to be less than compelling
In between a host of other items, I reviewed Windows Server 2008 R2, focusing on the new Active Directory features that at times impressed and at other times didn't quite do it for me (read "Thumbs-up, thumbs-down Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory"). I also found the reason to upgrade domains to be less than compelling (read "Don't upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2 until you read this").