Internet Explorer 9

PROS: Hardware acceleration, standards-based rendering, Windows 7 integration

CONS: Some features require Windows 7, lingering site compatibility issues

RATING: Four out of five stars

RECOMMENDATION: Microsoft's latest browser will no doubt face a slow adoption in business, where website compatibility issues will bedevil admins and IT pros for years to come. But this browser is a no-brainer for individuals, offering a superior UI, excellent standards-based web rendering, full hardware acceleration, and, on Windows 7 only, deep integration with the underlying OS. The only serious issues with IE 9, in fact, are that it won't run at all on Windows XP—still a huge percentage of the installed base—and that some of its best features—including website pinning—require Windows 7. But those who like to stay at the forefront of Microsoft's product development curve will be well rewarded with IE 9. It's a viable alternative to Google Chrome and clearly preferable to Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari.

CONTACT: Microsoft 

DISCUSSION: SuperSite for Windows: IE 9

 

Windows Home Server 2011

PROS: Solid Server 2008 R2 base, centralized PC and server backup, centralized media sharing, remote access, network health monitoring, new add-in extensibility model

CONS: Removal of Drive Extender means no more automatic data duplication and single pool of storage

RATING: Four out of five stars

RECOMMENDATION: When Microsoft announced the removal of its Drive Extender functionality from Windows Home Server 2011, the enthusiast community howled in protest. But WHS 2011 is still a solid product with the right mix of functionality that home users need. And despite the loss of Drive Extender, much of its functionality can be easily replaced by automated daily server backups and, of course, the server's underlying Previous Versions functionality. When you combine this with WHS 2011's core features—centralized backup for all connected PCs as well as the server itself, centralized media sharing, networking health monitoring, remote access to all connected PCs and the server, as well as the new extensibility model—you get a product whose value is greater than the sum of its parts. WHS 2011 is no longer a home run, but it's still a big improvement over its excellent predecessor.

CONTACT: Microsoft

DISCUSSION: SuperSite for Windows