Small Business Server "Aurora" Release Candidate

PROS: Perfect starter server for small businesses, cross-premises foundation lets users pick the solutions that make sense for them

CONS: Use to start a new domain only—can't be added to existing environments

RATING: Five out of five stars

RECOMMENDATION: While Microsoft is hedging its bets with a more traditional, on-premises Windows Small Business Server 7 release this year, the company's "cross-premises" "Aurora" solution leaves a much more positive impression. Gone is the complexity of installing and maintaining multiple server solutions, replaced by a stripped-down but powerful Windows Server solution that offers best-of-breed storage and user management. Need email, calendaring, or other services? You're free to install on-premises servers as before, or utilize cloud services like Microsoft's Exchange Online (or even competitors like Google Apps), or you can mix and match. This is the right product at the right time for the small business market.

CONTACT: Microsoft

DISCUSSION: SuperSite for Windows: Aurora

 

Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone

PROS: Windows Phone now has a decisive and important advantage over all other smartphone platforms

CONS: Not all Xbox LIVE features are available on the phone; not all Windows Phone games will utilize Xbox LIVE

RATING: Four out of five stars

RECOMMENDATION: For months, the naysayers have been picking apart Windows Phone like carrion descending on road kill. "There's no cut and paste," they moan. "Where's the third-party multitasking?" they ask. Who cares? Windows Phone has Xbox LIVE, and this is the real deal, with gamercards, achievements, gamerscores, avatars, leader boards, multiplayer matchmaking, friends lists, and virtually everything else that makes Xbox LIVE special. It even has unique features like support for turn-by-turn games and a new "try before you buy" Trial Mode that game makers can easily add to their Windows Phone titles, and on the phone, unlike the console, there's no need to pay for an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription. The inclusion of Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone, and an amazing selection of over 60 games at launch is going to put Microsoft's new smartphone system over the top. This really is a game changer.

CONTACT: Microsoft

DISCUSSION: SuperSite for Windows: Mobile