Picking a favorite product from an impressive crowd of competitive offerings is never an easy task, and such was the case with our Editors' Best and Community Choice awards this year. The former award program highlights products that Windows IT Pro editors and contributors believe are worthy of recognition, whereas the latter program turned that process over to you, our readers.

Our Community Choice awards allowed readers to decide which products and services were chosen for acclaim and recognition. Rather than presenting a predefined list of products and services that limited your selection to choices our editorial team had already made, this year we decided to open up the process to everyone and let you determine the products and services that were worthy of inclusion in our final voting phase. We also encouraged IT pros to submit comments about why they selected the products they did, so you'll see lots of insightful comments and real-world wisdom from IT pros about their favorite products on the pages that follow.

Unlike last year—when we treated both award programs as separate entities—we decided to merge both of these award programs together this year. We've listed the top three Editors' Best products in each category directly adjacent to our Community Choice winners. Sometimes our editors and readers agree on what products and services were best in a given category, and sometimes they didn't. Yet regardless of whether these winners were picked by editors or readers, one thing is certain: All these awards recognize products and services that are considered the best of the best in their respective categories.

By presenting our Community Choice and Editors' Best award picks next to each other this year, we're hoping we'll encourage some dialogue about the selections that were made. Do you agree with the choices our editors have made? Or do the picks that our readers have made carry more weight? Please let us know what you think by emailing us your comments, or by visiting our online forums and writing a post or two.

Read on for our winners!

Best Free or Open Source IT Tool

Editors' Best
Gold: Spiceworks—Spiceworks (www.spiceworks.com)
Silver: PowerGUI—Quest Software (www.powergui.org)
Bronze: Truecrypt—Truecrypt (www.truecrypt.com)

"Spiceworks is arguably the best of a new breed of free, web-based services for IT pros that combine impressive feature sets with active, online communities of active IT pros." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

"Designing and configuring a full-blown SNMP-based network management system (NMS) console can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Spiceworks eliminates the tedium and lowers the up-front cost by delivering an NMS console as a web service hosted offsite." —Mel Beckman, contributing editor, SQL Server Magazine

"There are a lot of PowerShell scripting and GUI tools on the market these days, but PowerGUI remains one of the best, and it's free!" —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Sysinternals Suite—Microsoft (www.microsoft.com)
Silver: Adobe Reader—Adobe (www.adobe.com)
Bronze: AVG Free—AVG Technologies (www.avg.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Microsoft's Sysinternals Suite …
"You might not need all of these tools, but the ones you do need are absolutely essential."
"No IT pro can afford to be without these tools."
"A must-have collection for the serious admin."

Best Active Directory and Group Policy Product

Editors' Best
Gold: GPExpert Group Policy Automation Engine 2.0—SDM Software (www.sdmsoftware.com)
Silver: Privilege Manager—BeyondTrust (pm.beyondtrust.com)
Bronze: Group ID Suite—Imanami (www.imanami.com)

"SDM Software's GPExpert Group Policy Automation Engine 2.0 is a tool that helps the Group Policy–challenged manage Group Policy as though they were Group Policy experts."—Caroline Marwitz, associate editor, Windows IT Pro

"SDM products and free utilities allow the most powerful GPO management. SDM Software clearly shows its leadership in Group Policy management products with innovative solutions that no one else provides. The company led the way in automation of Group Policy management with its Group Policy Automation Engine and free PowerShell GPMC cmdlets—which I personally value highly. These technologies were introduced by SDM long before Microsoft provided limited functionality in Windows 7."—Guido Grillenmeier, contributor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Scriptlogic Active Administrator—ScriptLogic (www.scriptlogic.com)
Silver: Group Policy Manager—Quest Software (www.quest.com)
Bronze: Active Directory Change Reporter—NetWrix (www.netwrix.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about ScriptLogic's Active Administrator…
"I believe it's the best AD resource on the market and priced perfectly."
"Lets you recover that OU and save embarrassment and time."
"Wonderfully comprehensive tool set for managing AD."

Best Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Product

Editors' Best
Gold: Tripwire for Servers—Tripwire (www.tripwire.com)
Silver: Managed Endpoint Protection Services—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Bronze: IronPort C-Series—Cisco (www.ironport.com)

"\[Tripwire's\] leading platform-integrity-checking software allows for advanced data anad system protection and centralized monitoring. It's a great tool for compliance purposes."—Jan De Clercq, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

"Tripwire is an effective tool for protecting your network. The product is a great security add-on, regardless of your primary intrusion-detection software."—Mark Joseph Edwards, senior contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: VIPRE Enterprise—Sunbelt Software (www.sunbeltsoftware.com)
Silver: ESET NOD32—ESET (www.eset.com)
Bronze: OfficeScan—Trend Micro (www.trendmicro.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Sunbelt Software's VIPRE Enterprise …
"Easy to deploy, excellent value, low machine overhead."
"Least use of memory, least impact to system and processes, performs as well (perhaps better) than the biggies."
"Totally reliable, catches and defends the environment more than any other product, and has the lowest CPU usage."
"It's fast and light on system resources. It's also not just antivirus (quarantine or delete files) but provides a brute-force clean-up of the crud left behind by malware (including dummy files, registry settings, DNS entries, and browser help objects)." Best Auditing and Compliance Product

Editors' Best
Gold: Control Compliance Suite—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Silver: ChangeAuditor—Quest Software(www.quest.com)
Bronze: Active Directory Change Reporter—NetWrix (www.netwrix.com)

"Keeping your IT infrastructure in compliance with the many different corporate governance rules and regulations can be an arduous task. It is expensive and is aimed at larger enterprises, but Symantec Control Compliance Suite can help ease the compliance burden immensely."—Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

"It's a big product to cover a big problem, but Symantec Control Compliance Suite gives you many options for deployment. It has broad platform support for multi-OS environments, runs agentless or agent-based, and features many out-of-the-box policies for common regulations, such as SOX and PCI, as well as letting you define policies specific to your environment."—B. K. Winstead, associate editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Control Compliance Suite—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Silver: GFI EventsManager—GFI (www.gfi.com)
Bronze: Change Auditor—Quest Software (www.quest.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Symantec's Control Compliance Suite …
"Extremely comprehensive."
"Control Compliance Suite gives me really great reports about my organization's compliance with internal and external standards."
"I can't imagine anything better."

Best Backup and Recovery Software

Editors' Best
Gold: Backup Exec 12.5—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Silver: Backup Now 5.5—NTI (www.ntius.com)
Bronze: Tivoli Storage Manager—IBM (www.ibm.com)

"Backup Exec has become the industry standard for simple and easy-to-use backup solutions for small to midsized businesses (SMBs). Symantec and Dell even teamed up last year to provide a complete turn-key solution, which I wrote about in my review, 'Dell PowerVault DL2000 Powered by Symantec' (InstantDoc ID 101476)." —Eric B. Rux, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

"Backup Exec is probably the most well-known backup application amongst IT pros—and with good reason. Able to back up myriad sources from flat files straight up to multi-instance SQL Server databases and store the backups on both disk and tape, this product has only gotten better with each version. It's particularly handy in the heterogeneous environments everyone has today because it can back up non-Windows platforms." —Michael Dragone, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Backup Exec 12.5—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Silver: Acronis Backup and Recovery—Acronis (www.acronis.com)
Bronze: Veeam Backup & Replication—Veeam (www.veeam.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Symantec's Backup Exec …
"With Backup Exec, I no longer worry about data loss. Recovery time is quick, and backup and restore management is very convenient."
"Well laid out, reliable, great new features. Backing up Exchange Server is a breeze."
"Easy to use, with superior granular-recovery functionality." Best Business Intelligence and Reporting Tool

Editors' Best
Gold: Tableau 5.0—Tableau Software (www.tableausoftware.com)
Silver: NovaView 6.0—Panorama Software (www.panorama.com)
Bronze: Analyzer—Strategy Companion (www.strategycompanion.com)

“What I like about Tableau 5.0 is that SQL Server professionals don’t have to spend a lot of time training business users on how to use it—anyone can quickly learn to use this product to create active dashboards and reports and analyze data, as long as they have access to the Internet. Tableau 5.0 also lets you tie in to multiple data sources and create interactive visualizations that help you better understand your data, and therefore help you make informed business decisions, faster.”—Megan Keller, associate editor, SQL Server Magazine and Windows IT Pro

“Filling the gaping hole left by Microsoft’s absorption of ProClarity, Strategy Companion Analyzer is the best solution to complete the Microsoft BI platform. For analysts, power users and general report consumers Analyzer supports the full range of SQL Server Analysis Services features. It has a zero-footprint client interface, making it simple to deploy and manage with delivery options for SharePoint, Excel and Internet Explorer. Analyzer offers a powerful and intuitive set of analysis tools and visualizations that let business users make more confident decisions”—Douglas McDowell, contributor, Windows IT Pro

"Giving stakeholders the information they need in a format they can understand is invaluable, and Tableau 5.0 does that better than just about any other BI tool."—Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: IT Analytics—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Silver: Crystal Reports—Business Objects (www.businessobjects.com)
Bronze: XtraReports Suite—Developer Express (www.devexpress.com)
Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Symantec's IT Analytics …
"Leverages all the data inside the Altiris platform."
"Default cube schemas and reports, visual quality, ease of use, dynamic tables and graphs, benefits of SQL reporting services."

Best Cloud Computing Product or Service

Editors' Best
Gold: Amazon Web Services—Amazon (www.amazon.com)
Silver: Google Apps—Google (www.google.com)
Bronze: Zmanda Cloud Backup—Zmanda (www.zmanda.com)

“Although Amazon Web Services isn't cheaper than running your own server in the long run—even in a hosted colocation facility—the ability to rapidly spin up additional capacity on a pay-as-you-go basis is extremely valuable. Amazon Web Services' management tools have become very mature, while staying easy to use, so you can easily and cheaply add Amazon Web Services to your bag of application hosting tricks.” —Mel Beckman, contributing editor, SQL Server Magazine

"Google is a pioneer in offering applications in the cloud, and Google Apps has emerged—in some use cases—as a viable alternative to competing traditional IT solutions. It may not be a good fit for many organizations, but Google Apps is definitely making an impact." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Amazon Web Services—Amazon.com (www.amazon.com)
Silver: Meraki Cloud Controller—Meraki (www.meraki.com)
Bronze: Salesforce.com—www.salesforce.com
Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Amazon's Amazon Web Services …
"Outstanding!"
"Best cloud computing product for enterprise-level cloud computing."
"Very simple and easy to manage." Best Database Monitoring and Performance Product

Editor's Best
Gold: Performance Advisor for Analysis Services—SQLSentry (www.sqlsentry.net)
Silver: Zero Impact SQL Monitor—SQL Power Tools (www.sqlpower.co.uk/)
Bronze: Ignite—Confio Software (www.confio.com)

"Analysis Services' presence is becoming stronger throughout enterprises as more companies are realizing and adopting BI-related solutions and platforms. Analysis Services Professionals have had to rely on out-of-the-box APIs, counters, and traces to obtain Analysis Services monitoring capabilities. With the release of SQLSentry's Performance Advisor for Analysis Services, this is no longer the case. The Performance Advisor for Analysis Services product makes for a great companion tool for the Analysis Services Professional." —Derek Comingore, contributor, Windows IT Pro

“What I most appreciate about Performance Advisor for Analysis Services is that it lets you monitor SQL Server Analysis Services’ (SSAS’) resource utilization in real-time mode or historic mode, then easily troubleshoot bottlenecks from its intuitive Performance Dashboard for SSAS. It also offers monitoring and alerting for SQL Server Reporting Services and SQL Server Integration Services, so you can keep an eye on Microsoft’s entire BI platform from one console.” —Megan Keller, associate editor, SQL Server Magazine and Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Zero Impact Enterprise Monitor—SQL Power Tools (www.sqlpower.com)
Foglight Performance Analysis for SQL Server—Quest Software (www.quest.com)
Performance Advisor for SQL Server—SQL Sentry (www.sqlsentry.net)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about SQL Power Tools' Zero Impact Enterprise Monitor …
"Zero Impact Enterprise Monitor is essential in our company for diagnosing performance problems."
"Valuable information, succinctly delivered."

Best Deployment Product

Editors Best
Gold: Prowess SmartDeploy Enterprise—Prowess (www.prowess.com)
Silver: Symantec Ghost—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Bronze: Acronis Snap Deploy 3—Acronis (www.acronis.com)

"SmartDeploy is a well thought-out deployment solution. It overcomes one of the major drawbacks of standard disk-imaging solutions—having to create a master image for each hardware platform—by providing Platform Packs to download at no additional cost." —Eric B. Rux, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

"SmartDeploy gives IT pros a range of excellent templates and wizards to use through the deployment process, letting them same time and money and focus on more pressing problems. SmartDeploy is something that any IT pro tasked with deploying PCs should take a look at." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Symantec Ghost—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Silver: Installaware—Installaware (www.installaware.com)
Bronze: SpecOps Deploy—SpecOps (www.specopssoft.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Symantec's Symantec Ghost
"This is, hands down, the best tool for quick, non-ghosted deployments."
"It just always works!"
"Creating and deploying images is a snap." Best Development Tool

Editors' Best
Gold: Adobe Dreamweaver—Adobe (www.adobe.com)
Silver: Altova XMLSpy—Altova (www.altova.com)
Bronze: TestComplete—AutomatedQA (www.automatedqa.com)

“I’ve been using Dreamweaver for web development—personally and professionally—for more than a decade. No other web development app combines so many features with such an easy to use interface. Whether you’re a DBA, IT pro, or end user, Dreamweaver is the best tool for the job.” —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

“TestComple simplifies the entire testing process with the help of a powerful and lightweight integrated environment. It does the job of testing various applications very nicely.”—Anand Narayanaswamy, technical editor, DevConnections

Community Choice
Gold: Adobe Dreamweaver—Adobe (www.adobe.com)
Silver: Coderush—Developer Express (www.devexpress.com)
Bronze: RadControls—Telerik (www.telerik.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Adobe's Adobe Dreamweaver
"This web editor simply does everything."
"Everything is faster, easier, and more intuitive with Dreamweaver."
"Very highly recommended to anyone building websites."

Best Hardware: Server

Editors' Best
Gold: ProLiant DL380 series—HP (www.hp.com)
Silver: NEC 5800 series—NEC (www.nec.com)
Bronze: PowerEdge—Dell (www.dell.com)

"The ProLiant line of servers is likely represented in every datacenter in existence. The DL360 and DL380 are the workhorses of many IT shops and for good reason: reasonably priced, extensive support options, and a myriad of configurations." —Michael Dragone, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

"Hardware is hardware. The CPU comes from Intel or AMD, the hard drives are industry-standard, and the memory is OEM'd from Korea. The real question is, 'Who is going to answer the phone when you have a problem?' HP support is rock solid. Period." —Eric B. Rux, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

"The HP ProLiant DL380 servers are fantastic virtualization hosts." —Alan Sugano, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: ProLiant DL380 series—HP (www.hp.com)
Silver: PowerEdge 2900 series—Dell (www.dell.com)
Bronze: IBM BladeCenter Server—IBM (www.ibm.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about HP's ProLiant DL380 servers
"Excellent power, reliability, and manageability for a solid price."
"HP products always have fewer problems than those of other vendors."
"Reasonably priced, reliable, and highly expandable." Best Hardware: Workstation

Editors' Best
Gold: ThinkStation S20—Lenovo (www.lenovo.com)
Silver: OptiPlex 760—Dell (www.dell.com)
Bronze: ThinkPad W700—Lenovo (www.lenovo.com)

"Designed for intensive tasks such as computer-aided design/engineering, scientific applications, and digital content creation, Lenovo's ThinkStation S20 is a powerhouse. This desktop workstation packs a whopping amount of power into an affordable price point for any organization." —Douglas Toombs, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

"The Lenovo ThinkPad W700 is a monster of a portable machine, with a 2.53 GHz quad-core Intel Core 2 Extreme processor T9300 (6MB, 1066MHz), 4 GB of RAM, a 250 GB hard drive, a 17-inch screen running at 1920 x 1200, and a built-in Wacom digitizer"—Paul Thurrott, news editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: OptiPlex 760—Dell (www.dell.com)
Silver: HP Z800—HP (www.hp.com)
Bronze: ThinkCentre—Lenovo (www.lenovo.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Dell's OptiPlex 760 workstations …
"Dell makes workstations that are solid performers. Great warranty. I've been very lucky with my desktops and had pretty much zero system failures."
"Inexpensive, high quality, very dependable."
"Bulletproof!"

Best Hardware: Laptop

Editors' Best
Gold: Lenovo T400—Lenovo (www.lenovo.com)
Silver: MacBook Pro—Apple (www.apple.com)
Bronze: EliteBook—HP (www.hp.com)

"The ThinkPad 400s offers familiar ThinkPad advantages like the best-in-class keyboard and build quality and custom add-in software that actually enhances the Windows user experience and combines it with one of the sleekest, lightest and most elegant notebooks ever created. The best news? It's available with an optional multi-touch screen too." —Paul Thurrott, news editor, Windows IT Pro

"Apple’s $1200 13" Macbook Pro is easily the highest-quality notebook I’ve ever used, and as a network engineer I’ve been forced to use everything. Its seven-hour battery life is the real deal, too, not some trumped-up laboratory-only number. I routinely get eight hours working time on my MacBook Pro." —Mel Beckman, contributing editor, SQL Server Magazine

"Now available with SSD drives, LCD backlit screens with desktop-worthy screen resolutions, and switchable discreet graphics while still featuring the awesome ThinkPad keyboard and docking options, the \[ThinkPad T-Series\] packs a punch without weighing you down or breaking the bank." —Michael Dragone, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Latitude—Dell (www.dell.com)
Silver: MacBook Pro—Apple (www.apple.com)
Bronze: Elitebook Series—HP (www.hp.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Dell's Latitude laptops …
"Exceptionally lightweight with great battery life."
"Just a terrific combination of features and functionality on the road."
"A sturdy, reliable performer." Best Hardware: Networking

Editors' Best
Gold: Cisco routers and switches—Cisco (www.cisco.com)
Silver: NSA series of firewalls—SonicWALL (www.sonicwall.com)
Bronze: Barracuda Link Balancer—Barracuda Networks (www.barracudanetworks.com)

"While not often receiving the tender, loving care that other IT hardware and software does, in today’s Web 2.0 cloud-compelled IT world, the humble Cisco products are the plumbing that keeps most (if not all) of us afloat in some way, shape, or form. I have yet to meet an IT pro who didn’t have some piece of Cisco gear somewhere in their environment." —Michael Dragone, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

"My old boss used to tell me, 'Nobody ever got fired for buying Cisco gear'." —Eric B. Rux, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Cisco routers and switches—Cisco (www.cisco.com)
Silver: ProCurve switches—HP (www.hp.com)
Bronze: EtherFast switches—Linksys (www.linksys.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Cisco's routers and switches …
"I've never had any problems after implementing Cisco gear."
"Cisco always offers great support—quick, efficient, and generally knowledgeable about their products."
"It simply works."

Best Hardware: Appliance

Editors' Best
Gold: Bomgar Box—Bomgar (www.bomgar.com)
Silver: SA 500 Series Security Appliances—Cisco (www.cisco.com)
Bronze: Barracuda Spam Firewall—Barracuda Networks (www.barracudanetworks.com)

"If you need to provide remote support to your users on just about any device and don't want to use a cloud-based solution (such as GoToAssist), it's hard to beat a Bomgar Box. Available in several different affordable configurations, it's an overlooked device that should be considered." —Michael Dragone, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

"The Bomgar Box is an appliance preloaded with the latest release of the company’s remote support software. The solution enables attended and unattended remote PC access with multi-platform support." —Caroline Marwitz, associate editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Cisco ASA 5500 Series—Cisco (www.cisco.com)
Silver: SonicWALL NSA 2400—SonicWALL (www.sonicwall.com)
Bronze: Barracuda Spam Firewall 300—Barracuda Networks (www.barracudanetworks.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Cisco's ASA 5500 series …
"One device instead of many devices equals lots of extra cash in the budget."
"It performs exquisitely at so many security tasks."
"Robust, stable, easy to use." Best IT Automation Product

Editors' Best
Gold: Automation Anywhere Enterprise—Automation Anywhere (www.automationanywhere.com)
Silver: NetIQ Aegis—NetIQ (www.netiq.com)
Bronze: AutoMate 7—Network Automation (www.networkautomation.com)

"Automating the most time consuming and repetitive IT tasks can reap huge benefits for any harried IT professional. Automation Anywhere Enterprise isn't the only IT automation product on the market, but it's unarguably one of the best." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

"This best-of-breed solution lets you easily design and manage your automation task—without the necessity of programming knowledge." —Jason Bovberg, senior editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: AutoMate 7—Network Automation (www.networkautomation.com
Silver: Kaseya 6.0—Kaseya (www.kaseya.com)
Bronze: NetIQ Aegis—NetIQ (www.netiq.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Network Automation AutoMate 7 …
"Automates common IT scripting processes via an intuitive, easy-to-use IDE."
"I can honestly say that this product has streamlined and simplified my job."

Best Interoperability Product

Editors' Best
Gold: Centrify Suite 2008—Centrify (www.centrify.com)
Silver: Splunk—Splunk (www.splunk.com)
Bronze: Quest Authentication Services—Quest Software (www.quest.com)

"If you're a systems administrator in charge of managing a diverse assortment of platforms and OSs while simultaneously remaining compliant with complex regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, SOX, and PCI, you should put Centrify Suite 2008 on your shopping list." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

"We love Centrify DirectControl. It allows our clients to easily integrate their non-Windows systems into Active Directory (AD), and we can even support AD GPO’s on Linux, UNIX, and Macs!" —Dustin Puryear, IT consultant

Community Choice
Gold: Quest Authentication Services—Quest Software (www.quest.com)
Silver: GroupLogic ExtremeZ-IP 6.0—GroupLogic (www.grouplogic.com)
Bronze: Centrify Suite 2008—Centrify (www.centrify.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Quest Authentication Services …
"Lets us extend AD's security and compliance such that identities from UNIX, Linux, and Mac platforms and enterprise applications can interoperate with AD."
"Stellar product, great support." Best Messaging Product

Editors Best
Gold: PROMODAG Reports for Microsoft Exchange Server 8.5—PROMODAG (www.promodag.com)
Silver: Zenprise MobileManager—Zenprise (www.zenprise.com)
Bronze: E-mail Security Platform—Sendio (www.sendio.com)

"PROMODAG has been around for a long time and remains the gold standard for Exchange administrators who want to mine message tracking logs for data to help them understand the volume of messages that their servers handle. PROMODAG Reports is a great example of sustained success because they take a source of data that Microsoft has largely ignored and use it to provide an insight that is compelling and valuable for administrators." —Tony Redmond, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

"As a mature product, PROMODAG Reports manages reporting for Exchange quite well. The product is simple and it works. It has well over 100 reports and certainly includes all the reports most requested by customers. PROMODAG Reports is an excellent choice for SMBs." —William Lefkovics, contributor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Skype—Skype (www.skype.com)
Silver: Google Apps—Google (www.google.com)
Bronze: Lotus Notes—IBM (www.ibm.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Skype …
"I've loved Skype since the first day I used it."
"Free VoIP, anywhere in the world!"
"In a class by itself."

Best Microsoft Product

Editors' Best
Gold: Windows Server 2008—Microsoft (www.microsoft.com)
Silver: SQL Server 2008—Microsoft (www.microsoft.com)
Bronze: System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008—Microsoft (www.microsoft.com)

"Windows Server 2008 is undoubtedly the best Windows Server product yet, and serves as a solid foundation to build a Windows IT infrastructure. Server 2008 R2 promises to make this stand-out product an even more stellar performer." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

"Microsoft continues to improve the SQL Server platform, and SQL Server 2008 should help Microsoft continue to make inroads into larger and larger enterprise applications." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Exchange Server 2007—Microsoft (www.microsoft.com)
Silver: Office 2007 Professional—Microsoft (www.microsoft.com)
Bronze: Windows XP Professional—Microsoft (www.microsoft.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Microsoft's Exchange Server 2007 …
"It integrates with everything I do."
"It's a beast." Best Mobile and Wireless Product

Editors' Best
Gold: iPhone 3GS—Apple (www.apple.com)
Silver: BlackBerry Bold—Research in Motion (www.blackberry.com)
Bronze: Athena—Odyssey Software (www.odysseysoftware.com)

"Apple has clearly shaken up the smartphone industry, and other smartphone vendors are struggling to reach parity. Cheaper mobile phone solutions exist for the enterprise, but none are having as large of an impact on the mobile enterprise as the iPhone." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

The iPhone 3GS has terrific fit and finish, the web browser is better than anything available on any other mobile device platform, and the UI is polished, fast, and easy to learn." —Paul Robichaux, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: iPhone OS 3.0—Apple (www.apple.com)
Silver: BlackBerry Enterprise Server—Research in Motion (www.blackberry.com)
Bronze: AstraSync for BlackBerry—MailSite Software (www.mailsite.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Apple's iPhone OS 3.0 …
"It's the best mobile OS by far."
"An even better fit for the enterprise."

Best Network-Management Product

Editors' Best
Gold: Observer 13—Network Instruments (www.networkinstruments.com)
Silver: Orion Network Performance Monitor—SolarWinds (www.solarwinds.com)
Bronze: EventSentry—NETIKUS.NET (www.netikus.net)

"Network Instruments continues to be a groundbreaker in the realm of network management, and its Observer monitoring platform—which prides itself on retrospective network analysis (essentially a "TiVo for your network")—is testament to that. The latest version of Observer brings the power of real-time and retrospective network analysis to virtualized environments." —Jason Bovberg, senior editor, Windows IT Pro

"If you've ever dreamed of attaining unprecedented visibility into your network and the devices that connect to it, you need to take a look at Observer. This product just keeps getting better." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: NetFlow—Cisco Systems (www.cisco.com)
Silver: Orion Network Performance Monitor—SolarWinds (www.solarwinds.com)
Bronze: GFI Network Server Monitor—GFI (www.gfi.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Cisco Systems' NetFlow …
"More a standard now than a product, it's just the essential information at the heart of network traffic."
"Industry standard." Best Patch Management Product

Editors' Best
Gold: Shavlik NetChk Protect—Shavlik (www.shavlik.com)
Silver: ZENworks Patch Management—Novell (www.novell.com)
Bronze: Numara Patch Manager—Numara Software (www.numarasoftware.com)

"Shavlik NetChk Protect does a terrific job of automating the patch process, and its scheduler is particularly effective, discovering and deploying patches while constantly monitoring system needs." —Jason Bovberg, senior editor, Windows IT Pro

"Whether you need patch management, asset management, or security management, Shavlik NetChk Protect makes your job easier by automating your troubleshooting efforts. Today's less-is-more IT departments need this kind of tool to handle these types of tasks." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Patch Authority Ultimate—ScriptLogic (www.scriptlogic.com)
Silver: ZENworks Patch Management—Novell (www.novell.com)
Bronze: Prism Patch Manager—New Boundary Technologies (www.newboundary.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about ScriptLogic's Patch Authority Ultimate …
"For the enterprise, there's just nothing more complete."
"Lets you accomplish everything you need to do from one central UI."

Best Scripting Tool

Editors' Best
Gold: PowerShell Plus Professional Edition—Idera (www.idera.com)
Silver: PrimalForms 2009—Sapien Technologies (www.sapien.com)
Bronze: WMIX 2.0—PJ Technologies (wmix.pjtec.com)

"PowerShell Plus has features that all types of administrators can use, no matter the type of systems they manage or how well-versed they are in PowerShell. It's a well-rounded IDE." —Karen Bemowski, senior editor, Windows IT Pro

"PowerShell Plus is simply the most effective IDE available. Even if you're a PowerShell expert, you'll benefit from this product's powerful console and script debugger." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: PowerShell Plus Professional Edition—Idera (www.idera.com)
Silver: TextPad—Helios Software Solutions (www.textpad.com)
Bronze: UltraEdit—IDM Computer Solutions (www.ultraedit.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Idera's PowerShell Plus …
"The library of sample solutions is great to jumpstart some necessary administrative tasks."
"Best-of-breed IDE for PowerShell. It's a must-have for PowerShell users."
"Best debugging and code completion for PowerShell scripts. Period." Best Security Product

Editors' Best
Gold: Likewise Open 5.1—Likewise (www.likewise.com)
Silver: F5 Big-IP Local Traffic Manager 10.0—F5 (www.f5.com)
Bronze: HP ProtectTools—HP (www.hp.com)

"Livewise Open is a nice Windows, UNIX, Linux, Mac integration product that allows for centralized security management from Active Directory and Enterprise single sign-on (ESSO)."—Jan De Clercq, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

"Likewise Open is a treat to the networking community. The software lets Linux and UNIX systems authenticate to an Active Directory server and is capable of providing single sign-on(SSO) functionality."—Mark Joseph Edwards, senior contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Symantec Endpoint Protection—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Silver: GFI Endpoint Security—GFI (www.gfi.com)
Bronze: Citrix Access Gateway—Citrix (www.citrix.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Symantec Endpoint Protection …
"It's got the most complete assemblage of functionality and innovation."
"Best in class. I use it every day and have never had a virus."
"Most comprehensive endpoint security solution on the market today."

Best SharePoint Product

Editors' Best
Gold: ControlPoint for SharePoint—Axceler (www.axceler.com)
Silver: Professional Archive Manager for SharePoint—Metalogix (www.metalogix.net)
Bronze: NearPoint for SharePoint—Mimosa Systems (www.mimosasystems.com)

"Axceler ControlPoint helps IT pros get better control of their SharePoint environment through permissions management, content management, in-depth usage analysis, policy enforcement, and flexible alerts and scheduled analyses." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

"ControlPoint provides the tools and intelligence to help you managing and monitor large farms effectively and integrates well with the existing SharePoint UI; the ability to manage user permission levels is nicely implemented." —Curt Spanburgh, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Site Administrator for SharePoint—Quest Software (www.quest.com)
Silver: Colligo Contributor Pro—Colligo Networks (www.colligo.com)
Bronze: CorasWorks Workplace Suite 10—CorasWorks (www.corasworks.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Quest Software's Site Administrator for SharePoint …
"Has helped me completely understand and manage my entire SharePoint environment."
"For SharePoint management of servers and sites, it's the best and most comprehensive product out there." Best System Utility

Editors' Best
Gold: Diskeeper 2009—Diskeeper (www.diskeeper.com)
Silver: Norton SystemWorks Basic Edition 12.0—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Bronze: GFI Network Server Monitor—GFI Software (www.gfi.com)

"Diskeeper does its job well. It defragments in the background without hurting system performance and doesn't require defragmentation scheduling." —Zac Wiggy, assistant editor, Windows IT Pro

"Diskeeper 2009 is loaded with features, works as advertised, and can bring the most choppy and fragmented hard drive back to silky-running smoothness." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Norton SystemWorks—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Silver: Diskeeper 2009—Diskeeper (www.diskeeper.com)
Bronze: Acronis Disk Director—Acronis (www.acronis.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Symantec's Norton SystemWorks …
"I had a sluggish, mostly unresponsive computer, and after letting Norton SystemWorks loose on it, the system is now as fast as it used to be."
"I've always had great luck with Norton products."

Best Systems Management Product

Editors' Best
Gold: Double-Take Move—Double-Take (www.doubletake.com)
Bronze: Prowess SmartDeploy Enterprise—Prowess (www.smartdeploy.com)
Silver: GPOADmin with netPro NetControl—Quest Software (www.quest.com)

"Double-Take Move is an impressive, no-fuss solution that has all bases covered; it eliminates the hazards associated with migration to new hardware, uses mature technology with support for locked files, is hardware independent and even captures NTFS alternate data streams and transactions. Applications and users can stay online during migration, and only experience a short disruption in service during cutover." —Russell Smith, contributor, Windows IT Pro

"SmartDeploy is a well thought-out deployment solution. It overcomes one of the major drawbacks of standard disk-imaging solutions—having to create a master image for each hardware platform—by providing Platform Packs to download at no additional cost." —Eric B. Rux, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Altiris Client Management Suite—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Silver: Desktop Authority—ScriptLogic (www.scriptlogic.com)
Bronze: HP Operations Manager—HP (www.hp.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Symantec's Altiris Client Management Suite
"Out of all the vendors we considered, Symantec offered the most comprehensive capabilities."
"By far the best in the market for multi-platform, multi-device client management."
"Industry leader." Best Training and Certification Product or Service

Editors' Best
Gold: LabSim—TestOut (www.testout.com)
Silver: Train Signal Computer Training Videos—Train Signal (www.trainsignal.com)
Bronze: PrepLogic eLearning Videos—PrepLogic (www.preplogic.com)

"TestOut's LabSim is a true innovator in the IT training and certification space. This online lab technology helps further learning for professionals of all levels. Newcomers to the field can gain a level of hands-on experience on or off campus unlike ever before, and seasoned professionals have easy access to skills-based online training to earn additional certifications or degrees." —Brian Reinholz, training & certification editor, Windows IT Pro

"We feel that between the LabSim materials, the optional textbook TestOut offers, and the online course portal, our students have a very robust online environment that offers a comprehensive and integrated online experience." —Marcus Butler, contributor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: Train Signal Computer Training Videos—Train Signal (www.trainsignal.com)
Silver: LabSim—TestOut (www.testout.com)
Bronze: Global Knowledge IT Training Classes—Global Knowledge (www.globalknowledge.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about Train Signal's training videos …
"Train Signal videos are definitively the building blocks of creating a solid foundation when learning a technology such as Exchange 2007."
"Very polished, excellent instruction."

Best Virtualization Product

Editors' Best
Gold: VMware vSphere 4—VMware (www.vmware.com)
Silver: NxTop—Virtual Computer (www.virtualcomputer.com)
Bronze: Citrix XenServer 5.5—Citrix (www.citrix.com)

"VMware vSphere 4 has a lot of nice new features, but you can justify the upgrade by the increase in performance alone. We’re seeing performance increases of 20 to 30 percent and in some cases even higher depending on the application with the same hardware." —Alan Sugano, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

"NxTop is a complete end-to-end solution that allows you to create and deploy VMs to systems with a management console that helps you keep track of who has what. It also has a remote swipe option so that if a system gets stolen and boots up and connects, the VM evaporates." —J. Peter Bruzzese, contributor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: VMware ESX Server 3.5—VMware (www.vmware.com)
Silver: Endpoint Virtualization Suite—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Bronze: Citrix XenServer—Citrix (www.citrix.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about VMware ESX Server 3.5 …
"Simply the most important, sophisticated virtualization product on the market."
"It's evolved into such a mature virtualization product!"
Best Hardware: Storage

Editors' Best
Gold: Intel SSD drives—Intel (www.intel.com)
Silver: nTier Deduplication appliance—SpectraLogic (www.spectralogic.com)
Bronze: DroboPro—Data Robotics (www.drobo.com)

"As the price of SSD drives continue to plummet, you'll need to seriously consider taking the leap. It's the most worthwhile upgrade you can make to any computer system these days, and the Intel drives are amongst the best SSDs available." —Michael Dragone, contributing editor, Windows IT Pro

"Intel SSDs—along with the rise of virtualization and the boom in iSCSI SAN adoption—are undoubtedly contributing to a revolution of storage in the enterprise." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

"The Drobo is exactly what today's IT pros need—automated, easy-to-use, plug-and-play backup functionality in the form of a cool gadget." —Jason Bovberg, senior editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: EMC Clariion—EMC (www.emc.com)
Silver: Dell EqualLogic PS5000—Dell (www.dell.com)
Bronze: NetApp FAS3100—NetApp (www.netapp.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about EMC Clariion
"Easy-to-use, affordable networked storage."
"The new virtual-aware EMC Clariion is perfect for my VMware environment."
"Love the expandability."

Best High Availability/Disaster Recovery Product

Editors' Best

Gold: everRun VM—Marathon Technologies (www.marathontechnologies.com)
Silver: DataKeeper Cluster Edition—SteelEye Technology (www.steeleye.com)
Bronze: Symantec Veritas Storage Foundation HA for Windows—Symantec (www.symantec.com)

"Marathon Technologies' everRun VM is a snap to deploy, is easy to use, and is loaded with features. If you need to protect your virtual infrastructure from an unforeseen mistake or mishap, everRun VM is a great choice." —Jeff James, editor in chief, Windows IT Pro

"I really like the simplified approach that everRun HA takes to server availability: The completely automated setup and configuration makes it a unique product in the arena." —Jason Bovberg, senior editor, Windows IT Pro

Community Choice
Gold: DataKeeper Cluster Edition—SteelEye Technology (www.steeleye.com)
Silver: Symantec Veritas Storage Foundation HA for Windows—Symantec (www.symantec.com)
Bronze: Acronis True Image Echo Server—Acronis (www.acronis.com)

Quotes from the Windows IT Pro community about SteelEye's DataKeeper Cluster Edition …
"Very reasonably priced for what you get."
"A cost-effective and comprehensive DR solution.”