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.

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

Microsoft technology No. 3: Windows Server 8
I’ve written several articles outlining all the great features (there are hundreds of them) coming with Windows Server 8, including Hyper-V enhancements, Active Directory changes, and PowerShell updates. It’s probably the most exciting release of Windows Server since the 2000 edition, where we first saw Active Directory. Don’t get me wrong, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2008 are both excellent, but there’s something special about the enterprise-oriented features promised for Windows Server 8 that has me giggly.

Microsoft technology No. 4: Windows Azure updates
Microsoft has been enhancing its Azure cloud-based offering with lower prices and new features like an SDK. The big thing to look for is the connection via Hortonworks with Apache Hadoop. I’ll be honest — none of this was interesting to me until I read Mary Jo Foley’s review, then checked out Microsoft’s 10-minute Channel 9 video. The latter explains a bit more on how the integration will provide impressive access to both on-premise Windows Servers and Azure through tools with which admins are already familiar.

Wishful thinking: Office 2012 servers
I’ll be honest — though I hear buzz on the wire about Exchange 2012, SharePoint 2012, and Lync 2012, I don’t think we’ll see any of these this year. The 2010 flavor of each is still being deployed, and releasing new versions so soon could saturate the market for no reason. Based on Microsoft’s history of server releases, three- or four-year gaps are the norm. But one can dream, and if 2012 versions of the Office servers appear, that’ll be exciting.

More to anticipate from Redmond
I’m also looking forward to Windows 8, although I don’t know how relevant it will be or how much of a dent it will make in enterprise deployments of Windows 7, which are doing well. (We’ll finally be rid of XP soon, I hope.) The 2012 revamp of System Center should also be interesting. Rest assured that 2012 will be anything but a dry year for new Microsoft technology.

Source: InfoWorld

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