The end of the world must be coming.  Not because the Mayan calendar says so, but because Microsoft is innovating more than Apple.  It has been a crazy year, with pundits declaring not that the end of the world is coming, but that the end of Microsoft is coming.  Let’s take a look at what 2012 has brought us.

The beginning of year is a blur.  I managed to get to TechEd in June which was the first time that I got to take a deep dive into Windows 8 and many other things that had been announced in 2011.  The promise I saw in these products was really encouraging.  The thought of being able to run Windows 8 from a thumb drive or have Hyper-V native to the OS told me that at least for developers good things were coming.

I finally got my feet wet with Windows 8 with the developer preview just prior to the RTM.  While the initial experience was a bit of a culture shock I quickly grew to love it.  The media still seems to hold little love for the “reimagined” platform, but I think that once people spend some time with it they will enjoy the experience and what the FUD mongers say will fade into the background.  With the launch of the OS we finally got a look at the Surface.  I think this is a bold entry into the tablet market.  While I wish it was a little more affordable I am already starting to see them in the wild being used by non-techies.

I was waiting for Windows Phone 8 at least as much as Windows 8, probably more.  The new hardware, better marketing and new OS features I think are going to finally push us to the point of having a real presence in the smartphone market.  I am seeing a number of iPhone users picking up a Nokia Lumia 920 and getting rid of their brand new iPhone 5.  The only real debacle that I saw around the launch was when they held back the SDK from general developers.

Shortly after the launch events came Build 2012.  I was extremely disappointed that I didn’t make it to this year’s Build.  Even if they weren’t handing out Surface and Lumia devices I think the atmosphere and content were something that really needed to be experience in person.  Hopefully there will be a Build next year and it’s schedule will be announced soon.  As you would expect Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 development were the mainstay of the conference, but improvements in Azure also played a key role.  This movement of services to the cloud will continue and we need to understand where it best fits into the solutions we build.

Lower on the radar this year were Office 2013, SQL Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012.  Their glory stolen by the consumer OS and hardware announcements, these new releases are no less important.  Companies will see significant improvements in performance and capabilities if they upgrade.  At TechEd they had shown some of the new features of Windows Server 2012 around hardware integration and Hyper-V performance which absolutely blew me away.  It is our job to bring these important improvements to our company’s attention so that they can be leveraged.

Personally, the consulting business in 2012 was the busiest it has been in a long time.  More companies were ready to attack new projects after several years of putting them on the back burner.  I also worked to bring back momentum to the Chicago Information Technology Architects Group.  Both the community and clients are excited about the new technologies that have come out in 2012 and now it is time to deliver.

What does 2013 have in store.  I don’t see it be quite as exciting as 2012.  Microsoft will be releasing the Surface Pro in January and it seems that we will see more frequent OS update for Windows.  There are rumors that we may see a Surface phone in 2013.  It has also been announced that there will finally be a rework of the XBox next fall.  The new year will also be a time for us in the development community to take advantage of these new tools and devices.  After all, it is what we build on top of these platforms that will attract more consumers and corporations to using them.

Just as I am 99.999% sure that the world is not going to end this year, I am also sure that Microsoft will move on and that most of this negative backlash from the media is actually fear and jealousy.  In the end I think we have a promising year ahead of us.