2006 was a great year for software. I thought I would make my first post of the new year as a review of the software that was released last year that caught my interest. This is software that I think will have an impact on the world (some big, some small). It is not necessarily software that I use on a regular basis (or at all :).
I know I'm going to miss some great software, so please feel free to post anything I might have missed.
NOTE: Most of the links go to the original announcements. Some are official press releases, others are just blog entries.
Google Bookmarks (via the toolbar) - January 30th
Everybody that uses a browser knows what bookmarks are (also known as favorites). The Google difference is that these bookmarks are stored online, but are accessible through the Google toolbar in the browser.
I love being able to share my bookmarks between home and work and that I don't have to remember to back them up before I get a new computer.
Google Calendar - April 13th
My wife and I now share a calendar. This is a very convenient way to communicate events between us. There is also a very handy Google calendar gadget for the Google Sidebar that shows me the calendar right on my desktop at work so I always know what's coming up.
Windows Live Writer (beta) - August 11th
I'm using this software write now to create this post. It is a very nice blog entry tool. There are still a few kinks to work out, but overall it's great! It was very easy to set it up to upload my posts to my blog.
Firebird 2.0 RC3 - August 13th
This is a great database. It's reliable, performs well, easy to use, and it's free with no limitations. I've been using the previous version of the DB for close to a year and have been very impressed with it.
Of course most people need more than a command-line utility to create and manage a database (not to mention testing it). IBExpert is a great commercial product with a free version for individual developers (it's limited, but you can still do a lot of stuff with it). If you've used SQL Server Enterprise Manager you can probably imagine what features it has (I actually believe that IBExpert has more features than SQL Server Enterprise Manager).
Logitech MX Revolution Mouse - August 24th
Ok, this isn't software, but I'm still damn excited about it! Mostly it's the flywheel for scrolling. It actually switches between a flywheel and ratchet (standard scroll wheel behavior) depending on the application you are using.
PowerShell RC 2 - September 26th
Command-line + .Net, what's not to like :). If they can fix the performance issues, I'm sure that many Windows admins are going to be very happy people.
Google Docs & Spreadsheets - October 11th
The future of the office software suite is here! Google has created an Internet based document editor (like Word) and spreadsheet application (like Excel). They allow for a high degree of collaboration, including the ability to work on the same document at the same time and receive live updates, almost like an instant messenger program (as rumor has it anyway, I haven't had the opportunity to see that work).
Internet Explorer 7 - October 18th
It's about time Microsoft updated its browser! They have done a great job of cleaning up the UI and providing the features that experienced web surfers have come to expect (such as tabbed browsing).
Firefox 2 - October 25th
I am very impressed with the improvements that have been made in such a short amount of time by an open-source project. It's great to see a viable alternative to Internet Explorer (if for no other reason than to encourage Microsoft to keep its browser up to date).
Microsoft Windows Desktop Search 3.0 - October 25th
This is the most effective way to search your Outlook email that I'm aware of. It also searches other documents (including MS Office) on your system as well. It's easy to use, fast, and produces good results.
.Net 3 (including WPF and WCF) - November 6th
These technologies will definitely have an impact on the world, especially Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), though it may take a few years for the hardware to catch up. Expect to see some amazing consumer applications coming out soon.
Basically the WPF (not to be confused with WTF) allows designers to create graphically intense (including animations) user interfaces quickly and easily. .Net 3 comes installed on Windows Vista and can also be installed on Windows XP and Windows 2003 Server.
Windows Vista - November 8th
Microsoft's new OS is possibly one of the best yet (based on the presentations I've had of it anyway). It has some great features for security and usability. As I look into my crystal ball, I see a new computer with Windows Vista on it in my future :).
I really looking forward to Windows Home Server. Home Server is essentially an appliance that you can hook up to your network for file sharing and other nifty things (it's a full version of Windows Vista). Unfortunately it's not due out until the second half of 2007. If you're interested in this, here's a great Ch 9 Video.
SQL Prompt 3 (beta) - ~December 11th
It's about time somebody added Intellisense to my SQL scripts. This has made writing SQL much less painful. I know longer need to scan the object browser every time I need to find a table or field.
Google Patent Search - December 14th
Patent surfing just might be the next big time-waster (ok, probably not). Google has certainly made looking for patents much, much simpler. You can now search for patents from the comfort of your home using Google's excellent search capabilities in order to make sure that your new "great idea" is not already patented.
Again, if you know of something I missed, please post it.