Windows 8. New Surface and phone devices. The .NET Framework 4.5. SharePoint 2013. Office 365. Yammer. Updates to Windows Server, Team Foundation Server, Windows Azure, SQL Server and Visual Studio.
What DIDN’T Microsoft do in 2012?
For a couple of years now, Microsoft has been laying out its vision of computing in the cloud, with a user experience that surpasses the desktop, and developer tools to ease the creation of new applications for this paradigm. And in 2012, that vision became (largely) reality.
It began with the release of Windows 8, an operating system that marked a complete break (sort of) with the past. Introduced was the concept of live tiles to replace icons on the desktop, where news feeds, calendar updates, photos and more could be viewed in a tile without even opening the application. Touch, too, became a big part of the operating system; a demo at 2012’s TechEd showed a person working on a device using touch, a mouse and keyboard, as well as a stylus to write directly into an app such as OneNote.
But it was not without a few missteps. The company called the new UI “Metro” style, and had to backpedal from that name when a small tech company produced a patent. Now, its new, wonky name is Windows 8-style applications. Also, Microsoft released Windows 8 devices with an option to revert to Windows 7, which showed that Microsoft remains guilty of offering too many options to people. Instead of leading, the company is accommodating, which leads to huge systems and poor performance.
For developers, the Visual Studio 2012 update was important if not revolutionary, introducing a new emphasis on “continuous quality” with new test capabilities, ALM tools for SharePoint development, and the addition of features for agile development. The new Windows Store is where developers can sell their apps and find their riches. For Office 365, SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online developers, the Office 365 Marketplace is open for business, but devs must learn the new application-development model first.
There was, though, one very big thing Microsoft did not do this year: The company failed to hold its position among technology companies, falling to third behind Apple and Google in market capitalization. But, as Apple struggles to regain its footing in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death in 2011, and as Google’s Android, tablet and laptop initiatives did not blow industry pundits away, Microsoft might have made up much ground this year in the device wars.