2009's key Windows and PC trends

Randall C. Kennedy looks back at technologies and events that shaped the enterprise desktop

It's end-of-year review time again! Here, in no particular order, are my favorite story lines from 2009. Some -- like Windows 7 -- are obvious, others -- like the emergence of business-class netbooks -- not so much. Regardless, these topics gave me plenty to write about in 2009, and I suspect I'll be penning more on them in the coming year.

Windows 7: Many people think I dislike Windows 7, but nothing could be further from the truth. I use Windows 7 every day, and I couldn't imagine going back to Windows XP or Vista. To me, it's the best desktop OS Microsoft has ever released. That said, I still stand by my earlier criticisms. Not of the OS -- if you read my coverage of the beta, you'll see I had no problem with it -- but rather the hype surrounding its evolution. Windows 7 was going to be all things to all people, an entirely new OS built atop the svelte, MinWin kernel.

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When I first balked at these early misinterpretations of its architecture, die-hard Microsoft fans called for my head. However, when my predictions were later proven accurate -- specifically, that Windows 7 was nothing more than a trimmer Vista with a new paint job -- these same voices were mysteriously silent. I'll take this as a tacit admission of their mistake and let bygones be bygones.

Multicore: The emergence of Windows 7 has given multicore technology a shot in the arm. Whereas first-generation systems were limited by Windows XP's (and to a lesser degree, Vista's) lack of multicore tuning, today's designs -- like the new Core i-series from Intel -- benefit from the availability of a fully multicore-aware Windows 7.

This means that customers who buy current-generation hardware will experience smoother multitasking and better performance under demanding compute loads. It also means no more fence-sitting for the "save XP" folks: Windows 7 clobbers XP on modern multicore hardware.

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