InfoWorld's 2009 Technology of the Year Awards

Apple and Microsoft top InfoWorld's list of 40 winning hardware and software products for professional and business computing

Apple and Microsoft topped the list of InfoWorld's annual product award winners this year, nabbing three and four Technology of the Year Awards, respectively. Announced today, InfoWorld's 2009 Technology of the Year Awards recognize the best hardware and software products evaluated by InfoWorld reviewers during 2008.

Microsoft's four prizes include two for development tools and two for small-business solutions. Best Integrated Development Environment went to the matchless Visual Studio 2008, while Best Rich Internet Application Platform went to Silverlight 2 -- which shares the award with Adobe Flash, Flex, and AIR. We don't like ties, but we're so impressed with the Microsoft and Adobe offerings that we couldn't choose between them.

[ Take a slideshow tour of InfoWorld's 2009 Technology of the Year Award winners in Applications, Middleware, and Data Management | Application Development | Platforms and Virtualization | Systems and Storage | Networking and Security ]

Microsoft knows developers, and clearly Microsoft knows small businesses too. Combining enterprise-class functionality and supreme ease of use, Small Business Server 2008 -- our Best Small Business Server -- had the SMB formula down to an art form. Microsoft also won Best Small Office VoIP System for the brilliantly simple Response Point. It's short on sophistication but long on ease of administration and ease of use.

If it weren't for the supremacy of Oracle Database, the impressive SQL Server 2008 release would have landed Microsoft a fifth award. But our prize for Best Database went to the incomparable Oracle Database 11g, a titanic release with capabilities -- namely Real Application Testing and Active Data Guard -- that DBAs previously could only dream about.

Apple swept the awards for end-user hardware, taking Best Notebook Computer, Best Ultranotebook, and Best Smartphone. The MacBook Pro, still the best notebook you can buy, won for the second year in a row. The iPhone won for the first time, having added important business-oriented features in the 3G edition -- closing the gap with BlackBerry, Nokia, and Windows Mobile -- and leaping ahead of the pack with the amazing App Store.

Hardware heavyweights Dell and Sun took two prizes each. The virtualization host with the most, Dell's high-performance and excellently expandable PowerEdge R905, won Best Virtualization Server, while Dell's Precision M6400 took our prize for Best Mobile Workstation. Although the M6400 isn't as user-friendly as HP's entry in the class, we couldn't help but admire the effort Dell made to squeeze maximum horsepower into a luggable chassis.

HP was tops among desktop workhorses with the value-leading xw4600, our choice for Best Workstation. When eight cores is overkill -- and it usually is -- the xw4600 Workstation delivers terrific bang for the buck.

Sun's Sun Fire X4150 server won Best 1U Server for a similar engineering feat, stuffing 2U of capabilities into the thinner form factor. Sun also walked away with Best Fixed Content Archiving Solution, which went to the highly resilient, cell-based Sun StorageTek "Honeycomb," a storage solution that's harder to kill than Steven Seagal.

Virtualization juggernaut VMware also claimed two Technology of the Year Awards. No doubt surprising no one, VMware Infrastructure 3 repeats as winner for Best Server Virtualization Platform, as well as VMware Workstation for Best Desktop Virtualization. The chase is on, but competitors still have no match for these two trailblazers.

VMware would own the virtualization triple crown, but we called Parallels Desktop for Mac over VMware Fusion once again this year -- by a fraction of a nose. Fusion has closed the gap with astonishing speed and even did a few things better, but it hasn't surpassed Parallels quite yet. The reigning Windows-on-Mac champ keeps the belt.

Reflecting the fact that virtualization has taken server rooms and datacenters by storm, InfoWorld awarded two other prizes to virtualization solutions this year: Best HA Solution for SMBs, which went to Stratus Technologies' Avance product, and Best Datacenter Virtualization Magic, which went to the amazingly versatile Scalent V/OE. Other signs of the times: This year's awards also include prizes for Best Office Alternative, Best Community Server, Best Mashup Server, and Best Cloud Platform.

All together, InfoWorld's 2009 Technology of the Year Awards includes 40 winners in as many product categories. Follow these links to find the complete listings of winners and the original InfoWorld Test Center reviews: Applications, Middleware, and Data Management; Application Development; Platforms and Virtualization; Systems and Storage; and Networking and Security.