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Products of the Year 2005:

The Windows-based computing market saw a lot of changes during 2005, the biggest being the continuing surge of Windows-based servers, the moving of Windows apps to 64-bit environments and the trend away from direct-attached storage and toward networked storage. As a result, we also saw third-party vendors in the Windows marketplace scrambling to either upgrade their products or announce new ones in response to these trends.

To make your lives easier and help you evaluate the products released, the editors of sat down this past fall to assess the 2005 crop of products. The goal is to help you choose products you should include on your "A" list for evaluation.

As in the past, following criteria were used when evaluating the products:

  • Innovation
  • Performance
  • Ease of integration into environment
  • Ease of use and manageability
  • Functionality
  • Value

We solicited nominations from vendors, scoured the market for our own nominations and recruited a panel of judges composed of independent industry experts, Windows professionals and editors. They reviewed a total of 44 products in five major categories -- Desktop Management, Servers, Storage Hardware, Storage Management Software and Systems Management. The results are presented within.

You'll see products that are completely innovative and unlike anything in their market. You'll see products that strike a chord with small and midsize businesses in terms of ease of use, as well as cost. None are perfect for all Windows shops, but we think you'll agree that they all have valuable attributes, and, when matched to the right task in the right environment, advance the state of the art in Windows-based computing.

How we selected the winners